Smithfield, N.C. — Industrial real estate in the Triangle is hard to find, and that’s especially true in Johnston County.
Economic Development Director Chris Johnson said about 60 companies looking to move or expand have passed on Johnston County since early 2020, including five last month alone, because it lacks available warehouses and industrial buildings.
“We just don’t have any,” Johnson said Friday, adding that what is in the county is outdated.
“They were great in storing tobacco, but they may not necessarily be the places where you want to make medicines,” he said.
Companies “don’t have 12 to 18 months to have something built,” Johnson said. “If we can figure out a way to shorten that time to get them up and running – to get them to making the sales – then we tend to be more attractive.”
The county doesn’t want to get into the construction business and compete with the private sector, he said, but to get a building off the ground, officials launched a Speculative Building Assistance Program with AdvanceTEC’s planned facility in Smithfield. The clean room manufacturer will build a bigger facility than it needs and lease the extra space to the county to help attract another company.
“This is kind of a unique way that doesn’t expose the county to the extremes of owning property,” Johnson said. “I feel pretty good that we can have clients consider us now when this building gets online.”
The shortage of warehouse and industrial space spans the Triangle.
“The Raleigh market right now, along with the Southeast, is being held back because they can’t build it fast enough,” said Doug Ressler, who analyzes real estate for Yardi Matrix.
The latest data from Yardi Commercial Edge shows 5.7 million square feet of industrial space is under construction across the Triangle, but only 2 percent of existing space is vacant.
“2022 is going to be a huge year for completions in Raleigh-Durham in terms of what the square footage is going to be,” Ressler said. “Vacancy is at an all-time low.”
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