"The North Carolina Railroad Company has taken on a project that may be outside its core mission by announcing in January it would spend $13 million to purchase 875 acres of private land for the 1,500-acre Greensboro-Randolph Megasite project, an industrial site designed to attract a large automotive plant.
...Since another railroad company would be serving the site, the railroad company will not receive any direct return from its spending.
...the $13 million NCRR has committed to purchase the land would be more than three times its net annual income, which in 2014 was $4.1 million.
...The N.C. Department of Commerce lists two other megasites as ready for an automaker. One is near Siler City and the other near Rocky Mount.
..The city of Greensboro is planning to pay for the extension of water and sewer services to the site. If a manufacturer agrees to build a suitably large facility on the site, the assembled acreage will be donated to that company.
...There are other entities with a direct stake in the megasite project, however. The Piedmont Triad Partnership, a regional economic development organization, began working quietly in 2010 to identify a megasite location. Randolph County and the city of Greensboro later joined the effort. The Department of Commerce made a $1.7 million grant to Randolph County in 2012 to support the development and acquisition of a megasite. The groups eventually settled on the current location that involves approximately 60 separate parcels.
David Powell, chief executive officer of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, resigned in January 2015. At the time Powell left, his annual salary was $326,000. The megasite was a high priority for PTP.
In April 2015, PTP learned that Powell had been involved in “financial irregularities” and asked the Greensboro Police Department to investigate the matter. In January, the Guilford County District Attorney’s office charged Powell with two felony counts each of embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense.
In February 2015, immediately after Powell’s resignation, former Greensboro mayor E.S. “Jim” Melvin formed the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite Foundation with the stated purpose of acquiring land for the site — bringing an additional player to the potential management and oversight of the project.
The foundation’s five board members include Melvin, Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland, and Randolph County Manger Hal Johnson. Melvin also is the president of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that awards about $3 million annually in charitable grants to organizations in the Greensboro area. The Bryan Foundation committed $5 million to support the Megasite Foundation. The Megasite Foundation is in the process of buying approximately 200 acres.