On Monday, May 20, regional transportation, economic development, business and elected leaders from around the region got together for a sign unveiling to celebrate the designation of US 421 as Future Interstate 685.

It’s all part of an attempt by area leaders and economic development officials to brand and market – under one banner – the many assets across a swath of central North Carolina in order to make companies think of the space as one region known as “the Carolina Core.”

The area is a more than 120-mile swath of central North Carolina that includes Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point and Fayetteville—and one that boasts megasites, universities and other assets that companies want to see.

The Interstate sign unveiling was held in Randolph County, adjacent to the just newly completed bridge over U.S. 421 at the under-construction Toyota Battery Manufacturing plant.

Carolina Core Regional Economic Development Director Loren Hill was just one of the many leaders there delighted with the way things are going.

“Today’s unveiling of the Future Interstate 685 sign is a true testament to the collaboration and teamwork that is fueling our economic momentum here in the Carolina Core,” Hill said. “Thanks to the collective efforts of our partners at the state, local and federal levels, this future interstate designation will help further increase our region’s economic competitiveness, while improving connectivity and commerce throughout the state.”

In addition to Hill, speakers at the event included NC Transportation Secretary Joey Hopkins and NC Department of Transportation Board Member Lisa Mathis.

In late 2021, legislation from Congress passed, designating US 421 from I-85 to I-95 as Future I-685.

Now, regional leaders are seeking a second Future Interstate designation for the segment of US 421 from Wilkesboro to I-40 in Winston-Salem.

According to a press release from the Carolina Core economic development agency, “This progress marks a significant achievement for the Piedmont Triad Partnership, which named the Future Interstate designation as a key strategic initiative when unveiling the Carolina Core in 2018.”

 Since then, roughly $20 billion in capital investment and more than 50,000 new jobs have been announced in the Carolina Core region.

Those behind the effort argue that adding the interstate will help make “this booming economic corridor”  better and safer, especially with a lot of freight being transported in and out of the region.