BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Two industrial mega-site parks off Highway 74 on the Brunswick-Columbus County line could get water infrastructure sooner than expected.
Monday, Brunswick County Commissioners approved a Brunswick County Public Utilities request to apply for an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant that would significantly offset the county’s costs to provide water service to the Mid-Atlantic Industrial Rail Park and International Logistics Park of NC.
Related: New water tower to serve Brunswick-Columbus industrial parks gets design funding
At more than 2,140 acres combined, the two mega sites sit empty, awaiting industrial tenants.
Water in the ground
Brunswick County Public Utilities Director John Nichols told Commissioners an EDA representative encouraged the county’s economic development arm, Brunswick Business & Industry Development (BBID), to apply for the grant.
“Having the utilities in place, I think will certainly help the marketability of those two sites out there,” Nichols said.
The project involves extending a 16-inch water force main 2.2 miles west down Highway 17 to reach the parks. To allow the future industrial tenants the ability to meet fire flow requirements, the county would construct a 500,000-gallon capacity elevated water storage tank.
If approved for the grant, Brunswick County would be required to spend a 20% local match of $899,030 to cover the total $4.49 million project cost. The county had not set aside funding this fiscal year to construct the water tank, however, officials shared positive sentiments about moving the project forward.
Design work is already underway for the project; in January, the county paid Municipal Engineering Services Company $122,400 to design the 2.2-mile water main extension; in August, Dewberry Engineers was awarded $185,479 to design the half-million-gallon water tower.
Besides attracting the industrial clientele the county is looking for, Nichols confirmed the investment could also help spur development in the surrounding area near the county line on Highway 74.
It would also allow the county to connect to Columbus County’s water system, which could improve resiliency and dependability in emergency scenarios.
Meanwhile, Columbus County’s economic development team is working to get wastewater infrastructure installed on site. Should an industrial client choose to build at either or both sites, presumably, both Brunswick and Columbus County could see an economic boost. A portion of the International Logistics park falls in Columbus County; the Mid-Atlantic Industrial Rail Park borders Columbus County in Brunswick County.
Brunswick County Chairman and BBID board member Frank Williams said he was supportive of the county’s investment at the parks.
“Our product is our sites,” Williams said Monday. “What I learned really quickly is a piece of land with a sign that says ‘industrial park’ is not an industrial park unless it’s got some other things happening there and utilities are an important part of that.”
Commissioner Randy Thompson, who serves on BBID’s product development committee, agreed. “Once the entire infrastructure gets in place — or a large portion of it — it’s going to be attractive and it’s going to draw,” Thompson said.
View the approximate location of the planned water main extension and two industrial parks below. Note: The Leland Industrial Park is not related to the infrastructure project.
Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee Still at firstname.lastname@example.org