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Lowes operation moving to Winston-Salem

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Looks like Winston-Salem's Madison Park may have a large tennant on the way! :D

Lowe's Cos. Inc., the nation's second-largest home-improvement retailer, may move its data center to Winston-Salem, possibly in the Madison Park office complex on University Parkway.

Chris Ahearn, a Lowe's spokeswoman, said that the company told its employees in May that it planned to move the center from Wilkes County.

Forsyth County commissioners were briefed about the possible project last week in a closed session.

The data center, which backs up the company's information, is part of a larger information-technology division that has more than 500 employees in Wilkes County, Ahearn said. The company employs about 1,700 people in Wilkes County.

Most of the company's information-technology division is in Wilkes County, though a small number of information-technology employees work at the company's corporate center in Mooresville, she said.

According to sources, Lowe's may be looking to sublease space in one of two buildings in Madison Park.

Two floors - or about 27,000 square feet - are available in the building at 5630 University Parkway, said Richard Redding, a vice president at Meridian Realty. He is the agent representing the property.

Redding declined to discuss which, if any, companies have looked at the office space.

Ahearn declined to say whether the company is considering Winston-Salem.

"We are currently evaluating potential locations for the data center," she said.

It is unclear what kind of economic incentives the company is asking for. The city and the county provide most economic incentives in installments over a period of time. Those incentives usually are not paid out until a company adds to the tax base, either through construction or new equipment.

The Winston-Salem City Council has not been briefed about a project involving Lowe's.

Sources said that the company will only agree to expand here if the city and county provide financial incentives. Details of those negotiations are not being released.

Derwick Paige, the assistant city manager for economic development, declined to comment about any ongoing discussions with any company interested in coming to Winston-Salem.

Both Ed Jones, a deputy county manager who briefed county commissioners about the project, and Bob Leak, the president of Winston-Salem Business Inc., which recruits businesses to the area, declined to comment.

Mayor Allen Joines, the president of the Winston-Salem Alliance, which helps recruit businesses and promote economic development, also declined to comment.

In August, the company said it earned $704 million, or 89 cents a share, in the three months ended July 30. That compared with $597 million, or 75 cents a share, the same period last year.

Lowe's has announced that it expects to add 150 stores in 2005 and 150 to 160 new stores in 2006. The company has more than 1,000 home-improvement stores in 45 states, according to its Web site.

"Lowe's is definitely a growing, well-known company," Commissioner Debra Conrad-Shrader said yesterday.

This latest request comes at a time when city and county officials are waiting to see if Forsyth County lands a $190 million manufacturing plant for Dell Inc., the world's biggest computer maker.

A preliminary package from Forsyth County and North Carolina officials for Dell's proposed electronics-equipment plant contains about $109 million in incentives, including nearly $13 million in local incentives.

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Cheap space once US Air moves out, and it's only rental. Who knows they might want to have a token presence outside of their Mooresville headquarters, and which by the way a few people actually live in the western Winston-Salem suburbs, and commute to Mooresville. It's only 80 people, but obviously with possible expansion. In such a rental situation, they could pick up and leave anytime. Still, it's good news for W-S if they do it.

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I find it funny that we are third in airline industry employees in North Carolina and don't have a major airport. Winston-Salem is close to Mooresville, is near Wilkes County for those who already work there and is a bigger and more attractive city than Wilkesboro. Its a good combination. Most Lowes employees in Wilkes live to the east and drive to Winston-Salem often. Some live in Winston-Salem and drive 421 to Wilkes County. Only one small county seprates Wilkes and Forsyth and its a very small county. I am sure the employees want this in Winston-Salem instead of Charlotte. Its closer to where they live. I can say relocation is not fun. Even if you are staying in the same state. I moved here from Atlanta last year. I love Winston-Salem but I equally love the small Georgia town I grew up in and all the people there. Its hard to move. Companies do lose employees when they relocate. Most of Wachovia's best quit after the merger and started their own business. Some Lowes employees still try to commute to Mooresville and the commuting was cited as a reason for moving to southern iredell county instead of Charlotte.

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I agree Myles Away! In fact, there was a feeble attempt to woo Lowes' headquarters to Clemmons, but Mooresville was in Lowes' mind all along because of the proximity to Charlotte. I guess it's just better to be near Charlotte than Winston-Salem. Not from my point of view.

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There was a proposal in 1994 or 1995 for a 40 story skyscraper by Cousins Properties in Atlanta for the spot where the BD&P Financial Center is now. This would've been a 515 foot tower with a pyramid shaped like Lowes logo. They wanted the North Wilkesboro based Lowes as a tennant and Lowes was looking for a new HQ back then. They chose a mall in Wilkesboro instead and converted the mall into an office building. Then they tried again with a suburban property near Winston-Salem and lost to Mooresville. I took a photo of the Tower 400 model which was the proposed Cousins Properties tower they were pitching to Lowes. Its no longer proposed but it would've been sweet if it was built. Never thought of Lowes as a downtown type of company but they used that tower to get incentives from Wilkes County where they stayed for only six or seven years.

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I remember when it was first proposed. There was the Wachovia Center and a planned 15 and 10 story Wachovia Park proposed and then this 36 story tower all on second street. Unfortunately none of those proposals got built. I was so excited about Lowes moving and all along they used us for better incentives to stay where they were.

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Lowe's wants move perks

Company would bring in data center for city, county incentive funds

By Victoria Cherrie

JOURNAL REPORTER

The city is considering whether to give Lowe's Cos. Inc. $1.5 million to pay for property, water- and sewer-line installation, and building improvements if the company moves its data center from Wilkes County to Winston-Salem.

The data center, which backs up the company's information, is part of a larger information-technology division that has more than 500 employees.

The Winston-Salem City Council was briefed this week in closed session about the project. Lowe's would be investing $100 million over the next 10 years, said Derwick Paige, the assistant city manager for economic development.

Based on that investment, the city would provide the $1.5 million, which represents 69.5 percent of the new property-tax revenue that the project would bring in the next 10 years. If approved, the money would be disbursed over the 10 years, with payment starting after the company pays property taxes for the first time, Paige said.

The city council's finance committee will discuss the project Monday, and the full council is expected to vote after a public hearing Oct. 18.

The city's deal hinges on the approval of similar incentives from Forsyth County. Those details have not been made public.

County commissioners have been briefed on the project in private and are expected to vote on the county's portion of incentives on Oct. 25.

In addition to the tax incentives, Lowe's has asked the city to waive permitting and licensing fees in order to hasten the process of preparing space for the new center in the Madison Park office complex off University Parkway.

Greg Turner, the assistant city manager for public works, said that waiving the fees would probably amount to a couple of thousand dollars.

Turner said that an exact estimate is difficult without knowing exactly what improvements the company will need and what permits would be necessary for the move.

Lowe's may be looking at subleasing space in one of two buildings in Madison Park that are being leased by US Airways.

Two floors - about 27,000 square feet - are available in the building at 5630 University Parkway.

Sources, who asked not to be identified, said that the company would agree to expand here only if the city and county provide financial incentives.

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Lowes picked Winston-Salem!

In it's second big win in the past month, Winston-Salem has been chosen as the site for a Lowe's Cos. Inc. corporate data center.

The retail company expects to invest $100 million in equipment and facility renovations over the next 10 years.

Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) will locate its data center at 5655 University Parkway in a three-story, 86,000-square-foot building in the Madison Park office complex in north Winston-Salem. It has signed a long-term lease with Highwoods Properties. The average wage at the data center will be $35,000 per year, said Scott Connell, vice president of Winston-Salem Business Inc.

"This is a great way to start the new year," said Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines. "This is another piece of the puzzle in our efforts to transform Winston-Salem to a technology community."

The announcement comes less than a month after Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) announced it would build a 500,000-square-foot, $115 million computer manufacturing plant at Alliance Science and Technology Park.

Lowe's has been approved for $1.532 million in incentives from the city of Winston-Salem and $2.067 million from Forsyth County, both over 10-year periods, Connell said. The company is also receiving $250,000 from the state through a One North Carolina Fund grant.

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That whole area is booming. Too bad its still a net net for the state, but they do retain a bigboy.

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