North Carolina economic development team to study Knowledge Park

Developments in Knowledge Park are now getting attention outside Rock Hill.

The city will host an economic development team from Statesville, N.C., later this month. Officials from the Iredell County city want to see if Rock Hill’s plans for redeveloping its downtown could be applied to Statesville’s own revitalization efforts.

“They’ve got their downtown back on the cusp,” said Jason Broadwater, a board member of the Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation. “Now they really want to create an economy there.”

Broadwater, the president of Rock Hill’s RevenFlo web marketing team, met Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President David Bradley  during a speaking engagement in the North Carolina town. Bradley later visited the Hive Business Center in Rock Hill. Now he and other members of Statesville’s downtown development team want to visit Rock Hill, taking a more in-depth look at the city’s Knowledge Park plans..

Rock Hill purchased the site and demolished most of the remaining buildings from the former Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Co. – a site commonly called “the Bleachery” – after it burned in 2009. A special tax district was set up to fund construction of a residential-commercial mix on the site. The hope is to draw high-tech businesses.

The Knowledge Park Leadership Group of local business leaders was formed to promote the project and advise city leaders. The group recently endorsed a streetcar transportation system running through the site, connecting Winthrop University and downtown.

Statesville isn’t the first city to express an interest in Rock Hill’s development strategy. Charlotte and Lancaster officials have visited Rock Hill to see what has been done downtown.

Members of the Knowledge Park Leadership Group have also taken trips to other cities to see their downtown plans and public transportation systems in action.

City officials and business leaders said a similar trip by Rock Hill officials to Durham, N.C., sparked the Knowledge Park plan.

Bristow Marchant: 803-329-4062, @BristowatHome