Since 2001, North Carolina has offered an official Certified Sites program to provide a statewide inventory of industrial sites that have undergone a rigorous prequalification process to ensure they are “shovel ready” for immediate development.

Criteria for Certified Sites

To obtain the Certified Sites designation, communities must undergo a stringent review process that demonstrates that they have addressed 31 prerequisites including:

  • Business/industrial use designation
  • Phase I environment audits
  • Geo-technical studies
  • Topographical analysis and maps
  • Aerial photography
  • Availability of public utilities
  • Industrial power quality
  • Engineered site development plans
  • Detailed analysis of development cost
  • Complete information on pricing

 

More Info...

North Carolina’s Certified sites are equipped with all the information companies and site selectors need to develop detailed timelines for development, construction and completion, budgeting, cost control, risk mitigation and planning. 

The Certified Sites Steering Committee generally meets on the fourth Wednesday of every other month of the year, starting in February. 

All documentation for the Steering Committee to review must be submitted three weeks prior to the meeting of the Steering Committee.  

Click here for a complete copy of the N.C. Certified Sites Program guidelines.

NC Certified Sites Program FAQ

1. Does one (1) soil boring per 20 acres seems too much - especially for parks and for western NC?  My understanding of the soil borings is that they are used to convey confidence and mitigate

1. Does one (1) soil boring per 20 acres seems too much - especially for parks and for western NC?  My understanding of the soil borings is that they are used to convey confidence and mitigate

Due to the fact that subsurface conditions can dramatically affect a project's design, budget and schedule, it is critical that a Certified Site include a minimum standard for soil borings that can be consistently applied and easily understood. After reviewing this criterion with a number of engineering consulting firm representatives, this criterion will be adjusted to read, "Document that the park’s soil characteristics are compatible with industrial development by attaching a geotechnical study." For certification, the geotechnical study should be completed using the following minimum standard: A minimum of three (3) borings for any site. For a site less than 75 acres, one (1) boring for every 15 acres in the developable area. For a site between 76 and 500 acres, one (1) boring for every 20 acres in the developable area. For a site greater than 501 acres, one (1) boring for every 30 acres in the developable area.

2. What is the standard (ASTM?) depth and width of the soil borings needed? This will help determine cost for the community.

2. What is the standard (ASTM?) depth and width of the soil borings needed? This will help determine cost for the community.

There is no ASTM Standard for the depth and width of the soil borings.

3. The 90% buildable acres on a 10 acre requirement could be in conflict with LEED Certification. Would Commerce waive the buildable requirement for LEED Certification?

3. The 90% buildable acres on a 10 acre requirement could be in conflict with LEED Certification. Would Commerce waive the buildable requirement for LEED Certification?

The Department of Commerce certainly encourages communities to seek LEED Certification, or any other type of certification that they believe would make their site more competitive.  Communities should realize that the North Carolina Certified Sites criteria are merely guidelines, and if communities want to also pursue other types of certifications, they should plan appropriately to meet those requirements as well as the Certified Sites criteria.

It does not appear that the LEED Certification criteria would preclude a community from seeking Certified Sites status in the vast majority of cases.  At this time, the Certified Sites Steering Committee will not waive the buildable requirement for LEED certification.

4. Can Commerce provide a point of contact or a letter of documentation for the steps required to obtain an exemption letter from CAMA?

4. Can Commerce provide a point of contact or a letter of documentation for the steps required to obtain an exemption letter from CAMA?

The Certified Sites criteria related to CAMA Counties have been clarified.  The first clarification relates to sites that are in "Areas of Environmental Concern."  An Area of Environmental Concern (AEC) is an area of natural importance.  It may be easily destroyed by erosion or flooding; or it may have environmental, social, economic or aesthetic values that make it valuable to our state.  Sites that are in an AEC are not eligible for certification as part of the North Carolina Certified Sites Program.

 

If the site is not in an AEC, the following are required for certification:

  • At the Intent to Certify stage, a community must provide a letter/memo from the Division of Coastal Management (DCM) that validates that the site is compatible and consistent with the county’s certified CAMA land use plan and is available for industrial development.  In addition, it will identify any policy limitations applicable to the site or other issues that may be considered unique or require special consideration that should be factored into the development plan.

    As part of the documentation required for final approval, the community must include the certified CAMA land use plan as part of the site’s documentation.

    For recertification, every 2 years, the community must provide a revised letter from DCM that validates that the site is consistent with the county’s certified CAMA land use plan and allows for industrial development.

To request a letter from DCM, please see Certified Sites program guidelines (pages 11 and 12) for DCM contact information.

5. When completing the Intent to Certify, is a site boundary map suitable, or does it need to be a boundary survey?

5. When completing the Intent to Certify, is a site boundary map suitable, or does it need to be a boundary survey?

When a community indicates its Intent to Certify it must submit some type of aerial visual of the site. A certified boundary survey is not required.

6. Is a field Boundary Survey required for final certification?

6. Is a field Boundary Survey required for final certification?

While a boundary survey bearing a licensed land surveyor’s signed certification is highly recommended, the minimum standard for the Program is a "compiled" or "inspection" survey.  This is a survey performed by a licensed surveyor that involves all the steps of a certified boundary survey, including research on all available recorded data about a site, but does not include the onsite, ground survey portion of the certified boundary survey.

7. Does the Department of Commerce have any plans to provide signage designating NC Certified Sites?

7. Does the Department of Commerce have any plans to provide signage designating NC Certified Sites?

The Department of Commerce does not provide field signage for the Certified Sites.  There is a logo designed for the Certified Sites program that we can share with communities for their use on signage, brochures, etc.  In addition, each community will receive a certificate from the Department once a site has earned the Certified Site designation.

8. Does a park must have at least half of the total acres meet the minimum acres/buildable acres requirement?

8. Does a park must have at least half of the total acres meet the minimum acres/buildable acres requirement?

A majority of the sites within a park must meet the minimum acres/buildable acres criteria for industrial sites.  The park may have sites smaller than 10 acres, but more than 50% of the parcels should be 10 acres/90% contiguous and buildable.  The steering committee may consider an exception where topographical challenges make it impossible to meet this requirement.

It is important to stress that to meet the criteria for a Certified Site under the Industrial/Business Park criteria that a community must include a master development plan.  With the completion of this master development plan, it should be relatively simple to determine if for example, the community has 10 parcels in the park that at least 5 of them meet the 10 acres/90% contiguous and buildable requirement.  It is also important to stress that although a master development plan has been completed, the Certified Sites designation does not require a park to be developed as originally planned.  We certainly understand the need for the flexibility to sub-divide and/or combine parcels for prospective clients and nothing precludes this.  If a community combined two parcels in the park for a client, at recertification, that community would just need to submit a new master development plan reflecting the change.

The intent of creating an Industrial/Business Park certification category is to encourage communities to think ahead about the possible uses of sites set aside for industrial development.  As an example, a community certified a site in the previous program, and even though the community planned to develop it as a park, did not prepare a master development plan.  A client searching for a site was interested in the park, but because a master development plan had not been developed, the client eventually determined that the easements, topographical challenges and wetlands precluded it from locating in the park.  In the revised program, with the Master Development Plan in place, the community will be better prepared to demonstrate to a prospective client how the site will meet the client’s needs.

9. Do I have to certify an entire park?

9. Do I have to certify an entire park?

No, you can choose to certify sites within a park, or you can choose to certify an entire park if you wish.

10. If I certify an entire park, do I have to then certify each site within the park as well, or are all sites within the park certified by association?

10. If I certify an entire park, do I have to then certify each site within the park as well, or are all sites within the park certified by association?

Each site within the park is certified when you certify an entire park.  A requirement of the Industrial/Business Park criteria is to submit a master development plan for the park.  While this master plan is not meant to be written in stone, it should help define potential issues with wetlands and where utilities, access roads, other easements, etc. will be located.

12. Documents online are publicly available. Does Commerce have a plan to address when an engineering company enters into an agreement where these documents are not to be publicly available?

12. Documents online are publicly available. Does Commerce have a plan to address when an engineering company enters into an agreement where these documents are not to be publicly available?

The Department of Commerce is unaware of a situation where work performed by an engineering company for a community does not become the property of the community at the conclusion of the completed work and payment.  It should be clearly understood that all documents submitted to the Department of Commerce become public record.  In addition, if a community is not interested in sharing the documentation associated with its site, it should not seek certification.

13. With such a high water flow requirement, does the Department of Commerce intend to exclude sites that are suitable for high impact projects, such as headquarters, with these requirements?

13. With such a high water flow requirement, does the Department of Commerce intend to exclude sites that are suitable for high impact projects, such as headquarters, with these requirements?

The intent of the Certified Sites Program is to focus on industrial sites.  The intent is not to exclude any kind of development on certified sites; however it is important that some minimum requirements be set so it can be confirmed that the site can support some level of service.  We believe that the water and sewer requirements are minimal and reasonable for even small industrial projects and would not preclude other types of development on the site.

14. Is there a complete checklist available of the requirements under the certification guidelines?

14. Is there a complete checklist available of the requirements under the certification guidelines?

The complete guidelines for the Certified Sites Program includes all information required for certification, including a complete checklist.

15. Where do we get the Intent to Certify form?

15. Where do we get the Intent to Certify form?

The Intent to Certify form is included in the program guidelines.

16. We have a Certified Site that was certified prior to July 2009. Is this site grandfathered in? Will we have to re-certify? If so, how long do we have to comply?

16. We have a Certified Site that was certified prior to July 2009. Is this site grandfathered in? Will we have to re-certify? If so, how long do we have to comply?

All sites that were certified prior to July 2009 will only maintain its certified status to end of 2011. To continue the certified status, the sites will need to be certified under the current guidelines.

17. When did the revised guidelines become effective? When was the new Building & Sites Database launched for uploading documentation for the Certifies Sites program?

17. When did the revised guidelines become effective? When was the new Building & Sites Database launched for uploading documentation for the Certifies Sites program?

Both the revised Certified Sites Program and Buildings & Sites database was launched July 1, 2009.

18. Once a site has earned certification, when does the two year period begin before recertification?

18. Once a site has earned certification, when does the two year period begin before recertification?

It is anticipated that the two year period starts from the day the Steering Committee certifies the site.

19. Can you provide a list of the steering committee members?

19. Can you provide a list of the steering committee members?

The Certified Sites Steering Committee includes:

  • One individual representing a Consulting Engineering Company –

  • One individual representing a Utility – Bill Roberts, Economic Development Manager, Duke Energy

  • One individual representing a local Economic Development organization – Todd Tucker, President, Surry County Economic Development Partnership

  • One individual representing the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina - Raleigh Office – Garrett Wyckoff, Senior Business Recruitment Manager

  • One individual representing a Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Regional Office – Harry Swendsen, Regional Industry Manager - North Central Zone

  • One (1) individual representing a management function of the Department of Transportation – Patrick Norman, Director of Planning and Programming

  • One individual representing a management function of the Department of Commerce (permanent appointment) – Susan Fleetwood, Executive Director of Economic Development

Members of the Steering Committee are appointed to serve a three-year term, with terms expiring on a rotating basis to ensure continuity on the Committee. Steering Committee members may be reappointed to an additional three-year term. Members of the Steering Committee are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary.

20. Can you give me a ballpark estimate for getting a greenfield business park site certified?

20. Can you give me a ballpark estimate for getting a greenfield business park site certified?

The minimum amount of time that it would require for a site to become certified in the program is two meetings of the Steering Committee.  The Steering Committee meets every other month starting in February.  Local communities are required to submit the information to the steering committee three weeks in advance of the scheduled meeting in order to provide enough time for compiling and reviewing the paperwork, conduct a field-visit to the sites, and distribute the information to the steering committee in a timely manner that allows preliminary review prior to the meeting.