Skip to content

County Commissioners Okay Support for Class A Industrial Space

JoCo’s Product Development Push Continues With 264,000-Sq.-Ft. Spec Space in Smithfield

JoCo’s Product Development Push Continues With 264,000-Sq.-Ft. Spec Space in Smithfield
Johnston County, N.C. – October 3, 2022. Johnston County Commissioners have unanimously
approved a series of economic development incentives to support creation of a 264,000-sq.-ft.
industrial building in Smithfield. The County will partner with a private development company
in hopes of attracting an advanced manufacturer or life sciences operation to the high-quality
speculative space.

“In today’s fast-moving economy, employers want industrial space equipped with modern
amenities and ready for occupancy,” said R.S. "Butch" Lawter, Jr., chairman of the Johnston
County Board of Commissioners. “This performance-based package of incentive grants will help
facilitate the kind of real estate product Johnston County needs in order to stay competitive
and continue generating high-wage jobs. We’re grateful for the creativity and hard work of our
staff in ensuring our communities can continue embracing exciting economic opportunities
when they come our way.”

The new facility will be located on a 25-acre Greenfield property off exit 93 of I-95. A private
development company intends to invest approximately $30 million in the building and
estimates it will be able to accommodate at least 25 jobs at wages comparable to those of
other Johnston County life science and manufacturing operations. The performance-based
incentive package includes an innovative new leasing mechanism that will give the county’s
business recruiters flexibility in finding the ideal industrial tenant for the property while
allowing the developer to manage some of its investment risks.

An economic impact analysis of the project by Dr. Michael Walden found that constructing the
building will bring $15.1 million in immediate benefits to the local economy, while operations of
the completed facility will add $23.2 million to the County’s annual gross domestic product
(GDP). The site is expected to generate $255,575 in yearly tax revenues to county and municipal
governments, according to the study by Dr. Walden, a Raleigh consultant and Distinguished
Professor Emeritus of Economics at North Carolina State University.

"It’s vital that we continue maintaining a diverse inventory of quality, ready-to-go industrial real
estate in Johnston County,” said Randy Jones, chairman of the Johnston County Economic
Development Advisory Board. “This project takes advantage of the great visibility we get from I-
95, which is one of our greatest economic assets, as well as our network of leading private
development partners. I commend our county commissioners for their leadership in making
sure all our communities are open for business.”

“Class A” refers to the most prestigious buildings competing for premier tenants, with rents
above average for the area, according to the Building Owners and Managers Association
(BOMA), a Washington, D.C.-based international trade association of commercial real estate
professionals. Such buildings come with exceptional accessibility, high-quality finishes, state-of-
the-art electrical, telecom, plumbing and other operating systems, and “a definite market
presence,” BOMA’s website ( explains. Additional details of the Smithfield
project and its specifications will be available to the public once the developer closes on its
acquisition of the acreage, which is expected by the end of the year.

“Our project pipeline remains very strong and we continue to receive inquiries from location
consultants and allies every week regarding available sites and buildings,” said Chris Johnson,
director of the Johnston County Economic Development Office. “Given the time and resources
that go into developing Class A industrial product, we don’t have the luxury of complacency
when it comes to keeping our real estate inventory aligned with the needs of growth-minded

In fiscal year 2021-2022, Johnston’s office received 79 requests for information (RFIs) regarding
active site-selection projects. But the office was able to fulfill only about half those requests
owing to the absence of the type of industrial product prospects needed. Those numbers
should improve as Johnston County partners with experienced national development firms to
create ready-to-go space. Earlier this year, Raleigh-based Edgewater Ventures unveiled plans
for more than half a million square-feet of Class A distribution space near the I-40/I-95
interchange in Benson.

“Seeing seasoned private developers interested in investing in Johnston County is encouraging
evidence that the County’s economy stands on very solid ground,” Johnson said. “It also means
we have to be proactive in controlling our destiny and making sure we’ve got a broadly
diversified industrial landscape and prosperity that spreads into all our communities.”

The Johnston County Economic Development Office (JCEDO) facilitates value-added interaction
between government, education and the private sector in encouraging and promoting job
creation and economic investment in Johnston County. A unit of county government, JCEDO
collaborates with local, regional and statewide partners and allies in providing confidential
location assistance to businesses and technical support to the county’s 11 municipalities. Its
menu of services includes customized digital mapping, labor and wage analysis, site readiness
assistance and incentive packaging. For additional information, visit

Scroll To Top