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Business Park Spurs Economic Growth

In 2007, the Johnston County (N.C.) Economic Development Corporation had a vision: spur economic growth by building a business park on 400 acres of farmland in the small town of Four Oaks. This summer, that vision will become a reality.

“The leadership in both Four Oaks and Johnston County wanted an upscale business park to attract new and expanding industry to the area,” says Peggy Anderson, director of the Economic Development Corporation. To make that happen, Johnston County secured $2.4 million in public funding to build basic infrastructure and hired Charlotte-based The Keith Corporation (TKC) to market, develop and manage the complex.

Last July, TKC announced that global medical technology company BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) would become the park’s first tenant. In June, BD’s $38-million East Coast distribution center will be ready for occupancy, bringing 187 jobs to Johnston County and the Town of Four Oaks.

Becton, Dickinson is the anchor tenant in the 307-acre Four Oaks Business Park located in Johnston County, North Carolina.

Investment-Grade Park in Strategic Location

Four Oaks Business Park is a master planned industrial and distribution community located along I-95 and situated approximately six miles from I-40. It is a public/private venture between the Town of Four Oaks, Johnston County, Johnston County Economic Development Corp. and TKC.

BD’s distribution center is a 720,000-square-foot facility—expandable to 1.1 million square feet—situated on 130 acres within the business park. “It is actually the equivalent of 15 football fields under one roof,” said Larry Smith, vice president of global-supply chain operations for BD, in an October 2, 2010 News & Observer article. The facility will serve as the hub for shipping products up and down the East Coast and overseas, according to Smith.

Construction begins on the Becton, Dickinson East Coast Distribution Center. (Photo courtesy of Choate Construction)

Led by TKC, the team of McKim & Creed, Merriman Schmitt Architects and Choate Construction is providing design and construction services for the BD center. McKim & Creed is also serving as the engineer for the entire Four Oaks Business Park, and has completed Phase I infrastructure and is currently providing services for Phase II.

“In less than a year, what once was a series of farms and pastures will evolve later this spring into a little over half a mile of newly constructed roadway, complete with water, sewer, storm drainage, curb and gutter and landscaping, to serve as the gateway to the Becton, Dickinson facility as well as other future tenants of the park,” says Lester Lowe, PE, McKim & Creed project manager.

Going for Gold

BD, ranked 24th among Newsweek’s 2010 Green Rankings, has registered its distribution center with the Green Building Certification Institute with a goal of obtaining LEED® Gold certification. “Becton, Dickinson has a very strong corporate culture for sustainability, and this facility is going to mirror that in its construction means and methods,” says Alan Lewis, industrial development partner with TKC.

Sustainable elements featured in the new distribution center include facilities for alternative transportation; site development that protects habitats and maximizes open space; architectural design and engineering that reduce light pollution and water consumption, optimize energy performance, and employ green power; and construction practices that incorporate recycled and regional materials, divert construction waste from disposal, and use low-emitting paints, coatings, carpets and paint.

“The site development guidelines and the civil design that have been performed by McKim & Creed constitute a fairly significant piece of the points that will go toward achieving the certification,” says Lewis.

On February 9, TKC received the Creative Thinkers Award from The Carolinas Chapter of the Counselors of Real Estate. According to a news release, the award was given for TKC’s “forward thinking and ingenuity in the site selection and development” of the BD distribution center at Four Oaks Business Park.

Anderson, who spent 30 years with the North Carolina Department of Commerce prior to joining Johnston County, attended the awards ceremony. TKC has “invested their own funds in the park and they brought Becton, Dickson to the county,” she says. “They put together an excellent package for the company.”

The Vision Continues

Four Oaks Business Park can accommodate additional tenants on sites ranging from eight to 170 acres. In a Raleigh News & Observer article published July 20, 2010, Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker called the park “a boon for Eastern North Carolina,” estimating that as many as 3,500 people may someday be employed by companies located in Four Oaks Business Park.

Nearly 200 of them will be employed by BD in the near future. “Becton, Dickinson will be an excellent corporate citizen,” says Anderson. “BD has several facilities in the state, and it speaks well for the county that they chose to locate their latest one here.”

Construction progresses in this photo taken November 12, 2010. The distribution center will be ready for occupancy in June. (Photo courtesy of Choate Construction)

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