By Ivey Schofield
The developer of a business park in southeastern North Carolina plans to invest $15 million to nearly double the park’s warehouse space, paving the way for more companies to move in and create jobs.
Cameron Management made the decision last week to expand International Logistics Park, which spans 1,100 acres at the Brunswick-Columbus county line, Bryan Greene, commercial real estate broker for the company, told the Border Belt Independent.
The plan is to add 134,000 square feet that is set to be available in the first quarter of 2024, Greene said.
“We continue to hear from economic development professionals that interest [from companies] is still coming to both counties from the state level,” Greene said. “Although it’s speculative, we believe that messaging to be true.”
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The International Logistics Park is among five megasites in North Carolina that state officials say are ideal for industrial and manufacturing companies because of easy access to highways, rail lines, airports and also skilled workers.
Located along U.S. 74, the International Logistics Park is 18 miles from the Port of Wilmington.
The business park benefits from Columbus County’s Tier 1 designation by the N.C. Department of Commerce. Companies that invest in Tier 1 counties, considered the most distressed in the state, can qualify for some additional economic incentives.
Before the 150,000-square-foot building opened last year, three tenants had already leased space there: home-improvement company Lowe’s, crime scene product company Tri-Tech Forensics of Brunswick County and aerospace and medical manufacturing company Precision Swiss of California.
Together, the companies have about 275 employees, said Bill Early, director of Brunswick Business Industry Development.
Precision Swiss pledged in 2021 to create 125 jobs at the site with an average annual salary of about $54,000, according to a news release at the time from N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s office. The average annual wage was about $35,000 in Columbus County and $40,000 in Brunswick County.
FOCUS Broadband is adding high-speed fiber optic cable throughout the park at no cost to taxpayers, said Gary Lanier, the Columbus County economic development director.
In the last several years, Brunswick and Columbus counties have spent millions of dollars to run water and sewer lines to the International Logistics Park and the nearby Mid-Atlantic Industrial Rail Park, a vacant space that is also a designated megasite.
Brunswick County is marketing the rail park to one tenant who could bring hundreds of jobs, according to Early.
“It helps greatly in promoting that site to prospective companies when they can see the activity across the road,” he said.
The business parks highlight the benefits of public-private partnerships to spur economic development, said Les High, chairman of the Columbus Jobs Foundation. High is also the publisher of the Border Belt Independent.
“If companies in the park create opportunities with high wages, people will drive distances for work. If we can extend water lines and provide sewer services in the east end [of Columbus County], you’re going to see residential growth there for a number of reasons, not the least of which is proximity to a job center like the International Logistics Park.”
Cameron Management is considering adding more buildings at the Logistics Park, Greene said, although no decisions have been made. The park has preliminary approval from Brunswick County for four sites.
“Over the course of the next 10 to 20 years, we hope the park is transformational with regard to opportunities that we were able to help create and provide for both counties,” Greene said. “The future is bright.”
New businesses ultimately add to each county’s tax base, Early said.
“That generates new revenue to the county,” he said, “that helps the county provide services to these citizens while keeping their taxes as low as possible.”