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BRUNSWICK/COLUMBUS COUNTY LINE—Government and business officials from across the county, region and state braved the rain and mud to celebrate the groundbreaking of the International Logistics Park of North Carolina Tuesday morning.
The 1,000-acre park is a unique venture between Brunswick and Columbus counties and the state.
Because the park is partially in Columbus County, new jobs created there will qualify for Tier 1 tax credits, a N.C. Department of Commerce tax incentive program that provides larger incentives for jobs created in lower-wealth counties.
The park will receive $12,500 per job created. Most of the companies being sought are looking for warehouse distribution facilities, and most are related to the Port of Wilmington.
The two counties and North Carolina Southeast, the economic development and marketing agency for the state’s southeast region, have set up a nonprofit organization that will allow the new park to have nonprofit status.
N.C. Southeast Director Steve Yost attended the event and has helped oversee the project since its inception in 2007.
“It will be a great impact to economic development, not only for these counties but for southeastern North Carolina,” Yost said Tuesday. “It’s an opportunity for a large number of jobs and investments built on the strengths of this area—ports, highways—to create additional growth in the region.”
Jimmy Oakley of the N.C. Ports Authority has also been involved with the project since the beginning. He said the project would be a great way for the area to participate in the global economy.
“Companies need to be close to the port to build their distribution centers and factories and to better satisfy the global demands. It will also create many new jobs in the area.”
Available spaces in the logistics park range in size from 200,000 square feet to 1.6 million square feet.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre said the sun was “shining above the clouds” and commended the participants for their work making a vision into reality.
“It’s exciting to celebrate this,” he said. “Thank you for sharing that vision.
“It’s not about who gets the credit when times are good or who gets the blame when times are bad. It’s about are we willing to stand up and say ‘Yes we will work together.’”
Keith Crisco, N.C. Secretary of Commerce, also addressed the crowd about the importance of putting North Carolinians to work.
“Unemployment is simply too high,” Crisco said. “We in commerce don’t need any more motivation than that…Logistics will be a cornerstone in the global economy.”
Glenn Carlson of the N.C. Ports Authority noted one of the requirements for national companies to open their distribution centers near the ports is to have a shovel-ready site available immediately after they make their decision, and the new logistics park is a prime location.
Brunswick County Commissioner Phil Norris called the project “a long time in the making.”
“It’s a great day for our whole region,” Norris said. “It will change the way we do business.”