Showing the true spirit of public-private partnership

In this day when it seems every company wants some sort of taxpayer-funded incentive for building, or expanding, or sometimes simply for not leaving a community, it is refreshing to see a pair of local businessmen and a company put their own money and resources into a project that could benefit many.

We are talking about Charlie Shelton and Ed Shelton, the brothers who own Shelton Vineyards and a number of other businesses in the county, and Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corp. As we reported Tuesday, the brothers and the company are paying for a 40-acre site at the corner of Zephyr Road and Twin Oaks Road in Dobson to be a Certified Site for business and industrial development.

To gain that certification, the site must undergo expensive studies, collecting and organizing data on the archaeological and environmental history of the site as well as information on potential endangered species living there, geo-technical data, and other environmental factors around the location. That information becomes part of a marketing package in hopes of landing a buyer and large employer there.

Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, said there are only 44 such sites around the state, and being certified gives the land “a leg up” in the competitive world of recruiting business and industry.

Of course, the Sheltons and the electric utility stand to benefit from the sale and development of the property — the Sheltons directly through a potential sale of the land since they own it, and the electric coop indirectly through the potential development of businesses there.

Still, the Sheltons and the electric cooperative are putting up the money with no promise of a return, in a way that stands to benefit the larger community. Any business locating there would create new jobs and generate tax revenue for the county, and if a larger industrial customer were to go there, that could mean more revenue for the electric coop as well as a major water and sewer customer for the town of Dobson.

This is an excellent example of a true public-private partnership where all parties stand to benefit. The Sheltons and the electric coop should be commended for putting their own money into the project, serving as an example to other local businesses and individuals for how to make Surry County stand out just a bit more in its struggle to attract new business and industry.

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