Rowan County Earns No. 7 National Ranking in Food Processing > City of Kannapolis | City of Kannapolis

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Business Facilities magazine, a significant source of trade information for national economic development site selection professionals, has for the first time ranked Rowan County among the top 10 metro areas in America for food processing locations.


Rowan County earned the No. 7 ranking in North America, including the top spot in the Mid-Atlantic, as well as No. 2 in the Eastern half of the United States.


Combine this with North Carolina being Forbes magazine’s “Best State for Business” three years running, and you have the No. 1 local location for food processing in the No. 1 state for doing business.


"Rowan County is primed for growth in the AgBiosciences and we're proud to receive national recognition for our food processing potential," said Rod Crider, Rowan EDC President. "This showcases the foundation set by companies like Food Lion and Cheerwine, as well as the opportunities ahead with the addition of the NC Food Innovation Lab nearby. We can't wait to see what's ahead for food processing in Rowan County."


Currently, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is receiving more inquiries from companies in food processing than any other industry. With a multitude of assets which led to this No. 7 ranking, Rowan County is primed to take advantage of the upcoming opportunities as companies search for a new home to move or expand to.


Rowan’s ranking was earned thanks to a multitude of assets in the community. The entire Charlotte region is transforming into a specialized and world-renowned research, development and production center for the biosciences. This is sparked by the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL) in Kannapolis, a new, current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) pilot plant accelerating plant-based food research, ideation, development and commercialization. Managed by NC State University, the NCFIL offers services for every stage of proof product development and brings together the latest in food processing equipment, expert food scientists and partners across the state.


The county is also rich in natural resources, particularly its water supply, thanks to its location on the Yadkin River which generates an average flow of two billion gallons per day. Farmers in North Carolina have 400 different soil types and more than 90 crop varieties, making the state a top-10 producer in 19 commodities, and also the home of 24 of the 50 largest food and beverage companies in the U.S.


“Rowan County features a central location, transportation access, available workforce, quality customized training from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, a large, dependable water supply from the Yadkin River, proximity to the Kannapolis nutrition research campus and our long heritage of agricultural excellence,” said Greg Edds, County Commission Chairman. “It’s easy to see why Rowan County is the East Coast’s top choice for food processing and one of America’s top locations.”

Interested companies don’t have to look far to see whether success is possible. Rowan County is home to the headquarters of Food Lion, which operates more than 1,000 stores in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, as well as Cheerwine, a soft drink which is an icon in Southern food and culture. Rowan also features the Carolina Malt House, Patterson Farm, Rockwell Farms and more, providing a built-in food processing supply chain for new businesses, which will have the opportunity to thrive in Rowan County.


As a state, North Carolina received top-10 rankings for best business climate (No. 2), installed solar power capacity (3), tech talent pipeline (4), biotechnology (5), customized training (6), food processing (8), best business tax climate (10) and fastest-growing states (10). Looking at the resources available in Rowan County and the business environment in North Carolina, the ingredients for success are ripe for the picking.

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