'Project Penguin' approved at NC Port, could bring over 100 jobs - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Facility approved at NC Port, despite Labor Commissioner's concerns; could bring more than 100 jobs

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Local Developer Chuck Schoninger has confirmed that his company has received final approval from the state to move forward with a cold storage facility at the Wilmington Port.

Last week, the NC Port's Authority Board of Directors approved the project, and Tuesday, the NC Council of State Signed off on a 20-year lease with an option for 20 more years.

The cold storage facility, dubbed "Project Penguin," could bring more than 100 jobs to the area. The facility would store fruits, vegetables, meat and other agriculture products imported and exported.

However, GOP Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry voted no on the project.

According to Berry, she was only member of the NC Council of State to vote against the proposal. Berry tells WECT.com that she had several questions about the project and did not receive information about the lease agreement until late Friday afternoon.

Berry also said she was concerned about reports about the project developer's past tax issues.

In March of 2012, WECT reported that one of Chuck Schoninger's business owed more than $125,000 in back taxes. However, Schoniger says that any taxes that are owed are either paid, or in the process of being paid.

Schoninger also says that the fact that there was only one dissenting vote says a lot about the project itself.

The storage facility's current plans include a 75,000-square-foot facility, expandable to 300,000-square-feet, according to a news release from the state.

Schoninger said they are putting the final details on the plans and hopes to break ground on the $15-million dollar facility in the next 90 days.

The project is being financed through Employment Based Program No. 5, or EB5, which rewards foreign investors who spend $500,000 with a green card.

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