$2B Connect NC bond passes; area to see $77M of it

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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was at UNCW Wednesday to talk about the Connect NC bond on the March 15 primary election ballot. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory was at UNCW on March 9 to talk about the Connect NC bond. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

The comprehensive bond that will fund new buildings and updated facilities on public college campuses, in state parks, and at North Carolina National Guard armories, as well as provide money for upgraded water and sewer infrastructure passed easily during Tuesday’s primary election.

The $2 billion measure was championed by Gov. Pat McCrory, who was in town last week to campaign for the bond. It passed the General Assembly last year with bipartisan support, and the city of Wilmington passed a resolution a few weeks ago to officially support it. The bond will bring $74 million to New Hanover County and nearly $3 million to Brunswick County.

“North Carolina has sent a message to the nation that people can come together and work to pass a bond package that will benefit future generations,” McCrory, a self-described fiscal conservative, said in a statement. “I want to thank the voters for saying yes to education, yes to strengthening our National Guard, yes to improving our quality of life by investing in our state parks, and yes to our smaller cities and towns for infrastructure that attract new jobs and strengthen our economy.”

Nearly half of the $2 billion is slated for the University of North Carolina system. The majority of the money coming to New Hanover County, $66 million, will be used to build a new health and human services building at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. The structure will be the new home for popular programs such as nursing, public health and social work.

An artist rendering of the 135,000 square foot health and human services building UNCW hope to build with the passage of a statewide bond. Courtesy image.
An artist rendering of the 135,000 square foot health and human services building UNCW hope to build with the passage of a statewide bond. Courtesy image.

“By voting for this bond, our citizens have affirmed North Carolina’s long-held belief in the transformative power of higher education,” said UNCW Chancellor Zito Sartarelli in a statement. “In addition to the tremendous impact this will have on UNCW’s ability to provide healthcare instruction as well as additional resources for our military population, the bond will help power continued economic growth for our region and ensure better lives for current and future citizens.”

Cape Fear Community College will get $5.9 million for new construction and repairs and renovations to existing structures. The rest of the money set for New Hanover County is going to the two state parks in the area – Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area ($1.125 million) and Carolina Beach State Park ($855,000) – for facilities and general maintenance.

The measure passed in New Hanover County by more than 5,000 votes, with 28,096 voting for it and 22,618 voting against.

In Brunswick County, $2.8 million will be going to Brunswick Community College. At the same local discussion last week that featured the governor, BCC President Susanne Adams said the money would be used to upgrade facilities for the nursing program as well as science and welding labs. The bond passed 18,248 to 13,945 in Brunswick County.

Though the vote counts were somewhat close in the two local counties, Connect NC passed by a large margin statewide, with 1,401,801 voting in favor and 736,488 against it.

“This was a bipartisan effort with Republicans and Democrats from the mountains to the coast, both in the legislative and executive branches, coming together to accomplish something that will have a significant impact for the next generation,” McCrory said. “Now it’s my job as governor to make sure we spend the money in the most efficient way possible so we can get the best value for the taxpayers of North Carolina.”