The North Carolina Railroad Company has launched an economic development initiative. Also, Pioneer Lines has reached a safety milestone: 12 consecutive months without injury network-wide.
NCRR has awarded a total of $2.92 million to rail-served sites in six North Carolina counties, as part of its new Build Ready Sites program. The money will be used for improvements, such as land preparation (clearing/grading), water/sewer extension, and speculative buildings (within specific ownership/lease scenarios beneficial to a community) to prepare for future industrial development.
Build Ready Sites, NCRR said, is the beginning of an ongoing initiative to partner with communities and railroads across the state to “combine resources and leverage funds for site readiness. Through this program, NCRR acts as a catalyst to increase the number of rail-served sites that are ready for use by a manufacturer or similar employer, boosting the opportunity for community and job growth through rail.”
The recipients are: Alexander County EDC Site in Taylorsville, N.C. (Alexander County); Butler Hill Site in Drexel, N.C. (Burke County); Eastfield Business Park in Selma, N.C. (Johnston County); Candor Property in Candor, N.C. (Montgomery County); Iron Horse Industrial Park in Aberdeen, N.C. (Moore County); and Ayden Rail Site in Ayden, N.C. (Pitt County).
“Each of these recipients underwent a rigorous application and site-review process overseen by Global Location Strategies, a consultant based in Greenville, S.C.,” NCRR President and CEO Carl Warren said. “We’re honored to launch an innovative program that not only fosters growth in our local communities, but also creates opportunities for meaningful partnerships that expand our state’s competitive advantage.”
“Funding from many programs, like the Rail Industrial Access Program and NCRR Invests, require a company to be actively interested in expanding or opening a facility in North Carolina,” North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said. “The Build Ready Sites program uniquely prepares rail-served sites to be more attractive to companies looking to locate or expand in our state.”
In related developments, NCRR—through its economic development initiative, NCRR Invests—will spend approximately $300,000 to assist with the construction of a new rail spur and storage tracks for Norfolk Southern to serve Sherwin-Williams Company’s expanding architectural paint and coatings manufacturing facility in Statesville, N.C.
Denver, Colo.-based Pioneer Lines announced on March 2 that it had marked a safety turnaround with one year of injury-free service across its 15 short lines. The industry average is 2.18 per 200,000 employee on-duty hours, according to the short line holding company, which reported a 15.96 injury rate in 2018.
“When our team came on board in 2019, Pioneer’s injury rate was unacceptable,“ Pioneer Lines Chief Operating Officer Ross Grantham said. “We immediately recognized safety would be our first priority and we undertook a number of initiatives to build a strong safety culture and set a goal of reaching no injuries across our entire network. To have all our railroads reach this goal in such a small amount of time is an indication of the incredible men and women at Pioneer. This was a collective effort, and I extremely proud of our team’s dedication to operating safely.”
Pioneer’s railroads include the Decatur Junction Railroad, Elkhart & Western Railroad, Garden City Western Railway, Fort Smith Railroad, Georgia Southern Railroad, Gettysburg & Northern Railroad, Indiana Southwestern Railway, Kendallville Terminal Railway, Keokuk Junction Railway, Michigan Southern Railroad, Mississippi Central Railroad, Napoleon, Defiance and Western Railroad, Pioneer Industrial Railway Co., Ripley & New Albany Railroad, and Vandalia Railroad.