The economic development forces behind a major new branding and marketing campaign – the Carolina Core – have announced that, on Tuesday, August 16, at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA), they’re going to have a big reveal: At the meeting, which will include business and economic development leaders along with elected officials, the group will unveil the new Carolina Core co-branding initiative and related efforts, such as the official Carolina Core-branded highway signage that will be installed along US-421 over the next 60 days.
Last summer, the Piedmont Triad Partnership (PTP), a regional economic development group with a goal of promoting a 12-county area in central North Carolina that includes Guilford County, announced the major regional branding effort. The Carolina Core initiative is an attempt to link and market four major megasites in central North Carolina under a single brand. The megasite at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) and the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite just south of Guilford County are both in Carolina Core, as are two other sites along US 421, which is why that stretch of highway is getting new signage.
Backers of the plan say it will have the potential to provide central North Carolina the same type of branding status that “Research Triangle Park” did for the booming area just to our east. They also say it could bring thousands of new jobs to the region.
Stan Kelly, the president and CEO of the PTP, and Mike Fox, the chairman of the board that oversees the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT), will speak at the April 16 event that’s being held at the airport since the new aviation megasite there is part of the project.
At the event, which will in some ways be the official kickoff of the branding effort, PTP promises “a big step forward for regionalism in the Carolina Core.”
The announcement will happen first thing Tuesday morning – at 8 a.m. in the airport terminal’s upper level near the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority office.
The megasites in the Carolina Core include PTIA’s new 800-acre aerospace site with runway access, the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite with over 1,900 acres available for future tenants, the Chatham-Siler City Advance Manufacturing Site that offers 1,800 acres and the roughly 2,500-acre Moncure Megasite near Research Triangle Park.
As part of the plan, US-421 is expected to change from a highway to an “Interstate highway.”
Late last year, the NCDOT began an effort to promote that highway to an interstate. The change, if approved at the federal level, would mean new signage, new interchanges, surface upgrades, shoulder enhancements and many other improvements that are required for a road to become an interstate highway.
In mid-January, as one of the first steps in the process, the NCDOT asked the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to support the move and the board did so at its following meeting.
Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing said in January, that, if the change was approved, it would take years to complete given the tremendous amount of work expected.
“You’re talking about a long, long-term project,” Lawing said.
The new signs that will be revealed on Tuesday will be part of that highway’s image upgrade and tie the interstate in with the new Carolina Core brand.