Build Ready Sites

Oftentimes companies don’t have the time or budget to wait on municipalities to create infrastructure improvements. In these situations, NCRR has a portfolio of “Build Ready Sites” as a key differentiator between a community and its competitors when attracting a new company.

The Build Ready Sites Program is a grant program assisting in the development and marketing of rail sites across the state of North Carolina. Applications to the program open every summer with a processing timeline of 6 months.
North Carolina has a substantial amount of land available for development located along active railroad corridors. The state offers multiple funding opportunities for development needs (e.g. infrastructure, building demo, etc.) when there is an active economic development client. Often, companies are not able to wait on these improvements – thus having a ready site becomes a key differentiator between a community and its competitors when working to attract a new company.

The Build Ready Sites Program is a grant program aiming to assist in the development and marketing of rail sites in North Carolina. Applications to the program open every year in the summer with a total process timeline of 6 months.

The 2023 Build Ready Sites Program application is closed. Please check back in Spring 2024 for details on the next application period.

Please note that all submissions must originate from your county’s lead economic development organization.

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Previous Awardees

NCRR has awarded over 6 million dollars to 14 sites across the state in just 2 years. These funds have helped leverage millions more in private investment to improve rail sites regardless of the area or or operating railroad.


North Carolina has more than 3,000 miles of railroad served by two Class I rail carriers and more than 20 short lines. This network links North Carolina shippers and receivers to markets throughout North America and across the globe with freight rail and intermodal services.

The North Carolina Railroad Company (NCRR) has invested for years in the success of the freight rail network to attract investment and create jobs, reinforcing and building on the value of rail served industry to the economy of North Carolina. Now NCRR is taking its investment in North Carolina to the next level with its newest program – Build Ready Sites.

“One of the major roadblocks to economic development in North Carolina and across the U.S. is the availability of sites that are ready for development,” says Anna Lea Moore, NCRR Vice President of Economic Development. “As our world continues to innovate, speed-to-market for products is a manufacturer’s central focus and thus, the critical construction timeline at a new location is completely dependent upon a site’s development-readiness. Our goal is to ensure that North Carolina has a healthy inventory of available rail-served sites positioned to meet the stringent timeline and development requirements of new and expanding clients by significantly reducing the development risk.”

Through Build Ready Sites, NCRR will partner with communities, railroads and other economic development allies across the state to provide matching funds for site needs, acting as a catalyst to advance more rail-served sites to a development-ready position. The objective is to remove barriers and improve the time-to-construction predictability around land that could be developed by a manufacturer or rail-served employer in 18 months or less.

“A lack of development-ready sites has forced some companies to eliminate North Carolina from their search,” says Moore. “If North Carolina doesn’t have what companies are looking for – sites that can be ready to go in 18 months or less – we cannot get clients to visit this great State and all it has to offer. Most of our competitor states offer resources for this challenge. NCRR sees an opportunity to fill a gap where there is a distinct need.”

“To be a contender in today’s competitive landscape, communities must have an inventory of ready sites, primed and on hand for prospects. At Global Location Strategies (GLS), we are witnessing an unprecedented client demand for speed-to-market never seen before,” says Sarah White, Principal at GLS. “Historically, over half of our projects have preferred or required direct rail access, further solidifying the need for available, rail-served sites. The Build Ready Sites program will be a pivotal tool to help alleviate communities’ infrastructure costs and schedule risks, providing a competitive edge to North Carolina.”

The Build Ready Sites initiative will target rail-served sites ranging in size from 50-100 acres. Proposals from both rural and economically distressed communities as well as sites with demonstrated community backing and support from infrastructure partners, such as railroads and utility providers, will be prioritized. Another key consideration will be the degree to which NCRR’s funding makes an impact on the overall development goals for the site. Examples of eligible funding uses include land preparation such as clearing or grading, utility extensions, access roads and construction of speculative buildings.

Like NCRR Invests, a state-wide rail infrastructure investment program launched by NCRR in 2016, Build Ready Sites has the potential to be a game changer in advancing N.C.’s competitive position.

“To our knowledge there is no other entity in the country focusing on the development-readiness and marketing of a single state’s rail-served buildings and sites,” says Moore. “While North Carolina has many effective economic development tools, there is a substantial lack of funding and resources available to assist communities in their site development efforts, and that’s why NCRR is stepping into this space with this new program. By working with communities to enhance their efforts to get these sites to that sought-after construction-ready position, North Carolina will be distinctly more competitive in the recruitment of the jobs created by rail-served companies.”



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