Nussbaum Seeks Funding to Turn Vacant Steel Building in Carolina into Engine of Economic Growth

Interior view of the Steelhouse at the Nussbaum Center

Interior view of the Steelhouse at the Nussbaum Center

The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship solar logo with text

The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship logo

The long-vacant Carolina Steel building off South Elm/Eugene Street will once again become a “transformational” regional growth engine.

Each distinct phase of the project is designed to be self-sustaining without the need for future government support.

—Sam Funchess, CEO

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA, USA, March 30, 2022 / — The long-vacant Carolina Steel building near South Elm/Eugene Street will once again become a “transformational” regional growth engine for new industries and new jobs – if the efforts of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship come to fruition.

The steelworks The project would convert the former 220,000 square foot steel fabrication building into an urban center for entrepreneurship and advanced manufacturing. To make this happen, the Nussbaum Center is seeking a total of $36 million from private foundations and American Rescue Plan Act funds from state and local governments.

Nussbaum already owns The Steelhouse property, which has 2,000 linear feet of railroad access and working cranes left over from its heyday. Located across from the Hampton Homes public housing community, it has the potential to create jobs for underserved workers.

“While the Triad has recently been successful in recruiting Toyota and Boom from outside the region, we want to help local businesses create local jobs,” said Nussbaum CEO Sam Funchess. “This project builds on the industrial roots of our past, the skills of today’s workers and the dreams of local entrepreneurs. These are the businesses that are most likely to stay based here for the long term, increasing the wealth of the entire community. »

The Nussbaum Center has a proven track record of job creation. More than 70 Nussbaum Center businesses have not only survived the pandemic recession, but are maintaining nearly 200 jobs that pay $52,000 to $69,000 in a variety of fields.

The Steelhouse would be developed in 4 separate and distinct phases, most costing around $12 million. Phase 1, which is privately funded, consists of 20 “shadow kitchens” for local caterers or food entrepreneurs who need space to generate meals and packaged food for delivery only or virtual restaurants.

The other phases are:
Phase 2: 75,000 square feet of manufacturing space that can support 225 jobs, from basic to high-tech. Forge Greensboro, which focuses on developing the workforce and teaching technical skills such as welding and woodworking, will move into the space as a partner.
Phase 3: Community space, a farmers’ market and offices.
Phase 4: Commercial kitchens for food entrepreneurs, including food trucks – or consumer food manufacturing for wholesale or retail distribution.

The building has several industrial overhead cranes that can move equipment. The space will be flexible, so small businesses can expand production without costly moving costs. And the city’s zoning allows heavy industry there.

And when these companies outgrow The Steelhouse, they will become strong manufacturers, Funchess said, who can make a broader contribution to the region’s manufacturing base.

Nussbaum is also applying for a grant under the regional Build Back Better challenge. If awarded, this grant could provide the $12 million for the Phase 2 manufacturing center.

Most of the money would come from the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government has given under the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Transformative is an important word,” Funchess said. “An even more important word is investment. It means you are going to get a return. And there will be a return to The Steelhouse and that return is estimated at 600 jobs. This performance corresponds to higher average salaries than what is currently found in our census tract. »
Key to his argument, Funchess said, is that each distinct phase of the project is designed to stand on its own without the need for future government support.

Guilford County has over $100 million in ARPA funding that it will allocate. Greensboro has more than $50 million and the state is working to allocate $2.1 billion in ARPA funds.

Pioneer of redevelopment Bruce Katz recently called The Steelhouse the type of transformative investment communities should make with ARPA funds.

It’s crucial that government officials target their money at self-sustaining projects, Katz says. He points to the Regional Investment Development Corp. of Pittsburgh as a successful and similar project. the Mill 19 project converted a former steel mill into what is now home to innovative businesses and high-tech manufacturing.

President Joe Biden touted Mill 19 as the kind of innovative project the nation should embrace when he visits Pittsburgh in January.

Lisa Hazlet
The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship
+ +1 336-379-5001
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