Critical Conversations with Scott T. Hamilton featuring Carl Warren, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Railroad Company
Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with Carl Warren, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Railroad Company, via Zoom and filmed the eighth episode in a video series called Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Warren provided his perspective on North Carolina’s economic development and job growth.
The North Carolina Railroad Company is a private corporation whose stock is owned by the State of North Carolina. The Company manages a 317-mile rail corridor stretching from Charlotte to the Port of Morehead City. The Company’s mission is to benefit the people of North Carolina by aggressively leveraging the unique strengths and capabilities of the North Carolina Railroad Company. Its vision is a modernized railroad that meets the needs of the future, expanding North Carolina’s competitive advantage.
Warren became the president and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Railroad Company in August 2020.
At the beginning of the year, Golden LEAF adopted a long-term strategic plan. Warren indicated that the North Carolina Railroad recently underwent a similar process. Warren said that during the North Carolina Railroad’s strategic planning process, they studied their assets and infrastructure to identify opportunities for continued investment around the state, found ways to make railroads more resilient, decided to build more thoughtful partnerships with entities with aligned interests, and work on transforming the company culture to drive the company’s vision forward. Warren suggested that the North Carolina Railroad’s structure provides it with unique capabilities. The Railroad acts as a private corporation, which allows it to accomplish aspects of projects such as planning, land assembly, and infrastructure work.
Golden LEAF and the North Carolina Railroad often are partners on components of the same strategic project. The Toyota announcement at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is a concrete example of such a successful collaboration. At the announcement on Monday, Warren said that landing Toyota was a “10-year overnight success,” meaning that much of the groundwork that went into creating the opportunity for a large manufacturer such as Toyota happened over as many as 10 years. For example, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $7 million in 2016 to support sewer infrastructure to the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite to increase site competitiveness and reduce the time needed for site development to attract major projects with substantial job creation and private capital investment.
Warren indicated that it takes years of hard work to make a project like Toyota come together. It takes dozens of partners with a long-term approach of staying dedicated to the vision and strategy. The North Carolina Railroad played a big part including physical rail infrastructure and land acquisition on the project. Golden LEAF was able to come in at the right time again as the project was close to announcing by providing $40 million to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide the needed road infrastructure to help make this long-term vision into a reality.
Warren also talked about funding programs that the North Carolina Railroad has to support economic development. Programs like the Megasite Program, NCRR Invests, or the new Build-Ready Sites program allow the North Carolina Railroad to help with economic growth. Golden LEAF collaborated with the NCRR Build-Ready Sites program to create the Golden LEAF SITE Program to complement and coordinate effectively with the work already being done by the North Carolina Railroad. Click here for more information on the NCRR Invests and Build-Ready Sites.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our January 13th edition of LEAF Lines.