Pender pushes for economic development incentives, fears new businesses could go elsewhere

Pender County Commissioners are joining the growing list of leaders asking the North Carolina Governor to call a special session to discuss continuing certain economic development programs.

In a letter addressed to Governor Pat McCrory, Senator Berger and Representative Tillis, the Chairman of the Pender County Commissioners David Williams wrote the following:

I am writing on behalf of my fellow Pender County Commissioners to express our concern over the failure of our General Assembly to continue several important and effective economic development programs.

The letter goes on to say:

                Pender County has spent a great deal of local money to develop an industrial park, and we are now facing the prospect of losing the tools we will need to effectively secure tenants.

Williams said currently only one company, RC Creations, is stationed at the park. The business is using about 20 of the 431 acres that are available. Williams said the company is discussing buying another 20 acres, but that still leaves several hundred acres for new businesses to fill.

Once that tenant was secured, Williams said Pender County invested an additional $3 million into the park, adding pavement, lights, gas and other utilities in hopes of brining even more businesses in.

Now, he said he's worried if certain economic development programs do not continue that will be much harder. Some of those programs he said include the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG).

"No one can say for certain but I have a pretty good idea it's going to make it harder to recruit tenants," Williams said.

He said one of the main reasons RC Creations picked the Pender Commerce Park was because the company is getting incentives through JDIG.

Another tool, he hopes that leaders will provide, would be to give North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker flexibility when it comes to closing funds. If that does not happen, he said, "I do believe that could come back to bite us, I hope I am wrong, but I have a strong feeling that will come back to bite us."

Without the tools, he said he still has confidence the county will be able to bring businesses in, but said it could take longer.

"We have so many positive things going for us, we will survive, but it would be a whole lot easier if we had the tools in place that our competition does to get them to want to come here," Williams said.

In August, Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) and Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) sent a similar letter, requesting a special session to deal solely with JDIG and other development items.

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