NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority leaders celebrated the completion of a major economic development effort Tuesday, designed to provide water and sewer infrastructure along the U.S. 421.
The corridor, which runs just north of the Isabel Holmes Bridge to the Pender County line is considered among the last areas in New Hanover County suitable for industrial development.
Benefits include superior services for water, fire protection, and sewers suitable for the needs of existing industry and future growth.
“It is a huge deal for New Hanover County and we hope to bring thousands of jobs with this,” said County Commission Chairwoman Julia Boseman.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony, County Manager Chris Coudriet explained this project has been talked about for decades, but was only started in 2016, thanks to the 2014 county-commissioned report known as ‘The Garner Report,' which identified water and wastewater services as critical to attracting industries like manufacturing and research facilities.
“This will impact so many businesses. Certainly the ones that are already here but just as importantly, the others that now see this corridor as a prime place to plant roots, grow, and expand business and create the jobs that our community wants, demands, and needs,” Coudriet said.
The project will bring water and sewer to 982 develop-able acres.
“When businesses come here they want to have a site ready. With this, we have existing water and sewer so they’ll be able to come here, and build, and start their businesses as quick as possible. It’s not going to be one of those waiting games, can we get water and sewer here? We have it. So, New Hanover County, we’re going to be very aggressive in attracting businesses here because of this investment,” Boseman said.
County leaders who spoke at Tuesday’s ceremony talked about the importance of bringing good paying jobs to the area.
“One of the main things we want to do here is bring good paying jobs here and new jobs and what this allows us to do is recruit businesses here and create better paying jobs and more jobs. Not just the upper class, but we need working class jobs for people who don’t have a college education, for trades. That’s what we’re doing and we’re investing in New Hanover County and its citizens and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure we bring the unemployment rate down and our folks have really good paying jobs in New Hanover County,” Boseman said.
The project also brings 31 additional fire hydrants to the 421 corridor, which will lower fire insurance costs for existing businesses.
Despite two hurricanes striking during construction, the project was finished on time and on budget. The total cost was $15.5 million.