MegaPark receives Grant for Site Plan
A $100,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) will help fund a feasibility study and master site plan for the Heart of North Carolina MegaPark in Moore and Montgomery counties.
U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, D-8th District, said the study is designed to define the future of the region's economic development plans.
"Bringing our tax dollars back home to recruit businesses and create jobs represents exactly the kind of investment we need to make to help with local growth and development," Kissell said in a statement announcing the grant. "Our economic recovery will hinge on all of us working at every level to create an environment for businesses to be successful, and this project is one way to do that."
Pat Corso, executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress, said the grant represented "a strong indicator of the viability" of the concept.
"Partners in Progress is thrilled to receive such great news," Corso said. "This grant will allow us to proceed with the next steps in making the Heart of North Carolina MegaPark a reality."
Tim Lea, a Moore County commissioner who chairs the MegaPark board, said he was thankful that Kissell "stepped up to the plate" to help secure the grant.
"This is the money we needed to continue to develop the MegaPark and start attracting corporations to the site," Lea said. "We're obviously excited and looking forward to the next steps in the process."
A year ago, Partners in Progress and the Montgomery County Economic Development Corp. each agreed to loan the board $50,000 to help pay for the study and the master site plan. First Bank also pledged a $150,000 loan. Each of those entities is represented on the MegaPark board.
Each loan carries a term of 10 years, an interest rate of 2 percent, and was collateralized by an 87-acre parcel within the park owned by former Lt. Gov. Bob Jordan, who also sits on the board.
Since the loans were announced, Hobbs Upchurch & Associates in Southern Pines has won the bid to conduct the study and develop the plan.
"We're trying to do it the old-fashioned way. We're trying to earn it," Corso said. "The good news is we're getting the EDA grant. It gives us the security to move forward in a timely manner."
Corso expected work to begin once the bank loan closes.
When completed, the mega site will be a 3,000-acre commercial and industrial park on land in Moore and Montgomery counties.
"The park will serve as a great resource for markets throughout our state and our region, and will help attract businesses that might not originally think to expand to our part of the world," Kissell said. "I am excited to see the project unfold with the help of this investment."
The MegaPark was announced in August 2010 after the county commissioners in each county signed a resolution of support to endorse moving forward.
The site consists of contiguous, undeveloped land at the northwestern corner of Moore County and the eastern corner of Montgomery County. It is bounded by N.C. 24-27 and Spies Road and essentially bisected by the new Interstate 73-74, but the majority of the acreage lies in Moore County.
Still, more than one-third of the land lies in Montgomery County, so the entire park is designated Tier 1 for state incentives. That means companies interested in locating there will receive a $12,500-per-new-job tax credit and a 7 percent tax credit for investment in personal property.
Moore County, on the other hand, is classified at the other end of the spectrum at Tier 3 and qualifies for meager assistance from the state.
The park will also be developed as a green, environmentally sustainable project that incorporates best practices to protect and enhance the natural environment while minimizing the use of nonrenewable resources. Specific zoning and covenants will protect on-site wetland areas and wildlife habitats, preserve natural aesthetics and promote conservation planning.
The build-out is projected to take at least two decades.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt@the pilot.com.
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