“Granville County’s economic development director will bid farewell this summer”. It’s party time folks. This is the best news Granville County has gotten in months if not years and not one day to soon. To celebrate let’s stroll down memory lane for a moment, shall we? One of the Granville County Economic Development Commission accomplishments was the Incorporation of Butner which was filed on March 22,07. During the same time-frame (March 07), Mr. Turner and the GCEDC was supporting the NCC-NBAF Consortium’s bid for the NBAF. (An aside note GCEDC has a representative specifically for the town of Butner) The proposed lab’s placement was never mentioned to the citizens of Butner during incorporation process, not once. Mr. Turner’s letter of support for the NBAF and the intial filing of the articles of Incorporation were a mere 24 hours a part. Coincidence? I think not.
Who’s economic development is Mr. Turner concerned with? Certainly not the residents on fixed incomes who will be paying for the infrastructure improvements and maintenance to support the NBAF. Oh and for all of you folks that keep on stroking GCEDC’s ego. Visit the NC Dept. Of Commerce website and run Granville County’s numbers since 2006, Lost 376 Jobs, Gained 90. Wow, now that’s economic development at it’s finest. John Pike has it right!
We need economic development yes, but not at the citizens expense and the expense of our environment, natural resources and quality of life for a lab that stakeholders in other counties could just as easily site in their own counties. Doesn’t NC State ,UNC or Duke have a few hundred acres available? Clearly the stakeholders do not respect the governing bodies in Granville County who have voted to not support their behemoth. When it comes to the NBAF the GCEDC has got it wrong and is a complete waste of taxpayers money.
Retiring economic director lauds industrial diversity
OXFORD — Granville County’s economic development director will bid farewell this summer.Leon Turner plans to spend his retirement with his wife and be minutes away from a pair of grandchildren in the western part of the state. “I mean, you need somebody younger and more energetic, like I was 10 or 11 years ago,” Turner, 68, said late last week of the need to replace him.Turner announced on Jan. 17 that he was stepping aside, effective June 30, to ensure a smooth transition for his successor. He will join his wife, June, at their relocated residence at Arden, near Asheville.
Turner was hired as Granville County’s industrial recruiter in November 1997. He will be leaving behind a county that, while famous for being a top-quality tobacco producer, is home of the world’s largest cosmetics plant, Revlon, and of the world’s largest roofing materials plant, CertainTeed.Both facilities are just outside Oxford.“We have such a wide diversity,” Turner said of the plants in Granville County.There have been some downsides.In January 1999, Burlington Industries announced intentions to shut down its textile plant near Oxford’s central business district and send some 450 jobs to Mexico.In March 2007, SanduskyAthol International, an automotive vinyl products firm that still had facilities at Butner, started sending employees and temporary workers home after losing a major customer.Local employment officials said more than 350 people were displaced as a result.
Turner attributed the two closures to a changing economy and SanduskyAthol’s in particular to an inability to compete.
More recently, Turner has come under some intense public criticism for his unwavering support for having the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility located at Butner.
Last month, John Pike, an Oxford attorney and vocal opponent of the project, called for the Granville County Commission to fire Turner, even though the commissioners have no such authority.
Turner late last week declined to respond to Pike, except to say he and Granville County’s Economic Development Commission board continue to back having the $450 million germ-fighting lab at Butner to protect the nation’s food supply.
“I think it would be a fantastic thing for Granville County and the entire region, all the counties around us and the entire state,” Turner said, because “it would put us on the cutting edge of research.”
Critics and protesters have cited numerous environmental and health concerns, and the County Commission in January reversed its position and withdrew support for having the facility at Butner.
Creedmoor’s and Stem’s municipal boards, each in 4-1 votes in December, declined to give their endorsement, and the Raleigh City Council last month unanimously went on record in opposition.
Butner is one of six possible sites for the lab. The federal government is anticipated to announce a final decision by October, with construction expected to take up to 2013 to complete.
There have been some upsides in Turner’s final months on the job, such as the future Granville Business Park, which will take shape along a stretch of land just off U.S. 158 and along the northern side of Interstate 85 as the freeway bends toward Henderson.
Without naming it, Turner said his office has a strong prospective client for the site, created as one of a set of Kerr-Tar regional mini-hubs that have since been collectively renamed “Triangle North.”
Currently, Turner lives in a local motel room on weekdays and spends weekends with his wife in Arden. As for being so far away from her on weekdays, he takes such an arrangement in stride, saying, “You get used to it, that’s all.”
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