Sewer and water along 421 creates corridor primed for growth and new jobs

By County Manager Chris Coudriet

In business, in economic growth…if you build it, will they come? I think the answer, at least in the case of our industrial corridor on US-421, is yes.

And I don’t mean building new offices or warehouses. I’m talking about building infrastructure, building a system for new and existing businesses to connect and utilize Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) water and sewer services. That’s what happened in December for our region when CFPUA finished its work to extend services along US 421.

Our community discussed the need for water and sewer on 421 for nearly four decades. And then in a matter of just five years – from the time of the city and county’s Garner Report in 2014 to now, it has become a reality.

The Garner Report provided actionable plans to increase private investment and create jobs, with the extension of water and sewer along 421 being one of the main targets identified. Through the support of the Board of Commissioners, CFPUA board, and local and state advocacy work – CFPUA was able to secure the ConnectNC bonds that helped fund this much-needed project.

The Board of Commissioners also contributed $1.6 million for fire suppression, which added 31 fire hydrants along the corridor that will protect the people and businesses there and those to come.

As the urban core of the region, New Hanover County and our leaders are, and must remain, focused on smart economic growth, providing the private sector with the infrastructure they need to thrive while encouraging further investment, and bringing more and better jobs that our community wants and needs.

Water and wastewater services are critical to help attract manufacturing and research facilities to our area, so investing in infrastructure development like this utility project will undoubtedly attract attention from the private sector.

Situated along the 421 corridor, Southern States was the first company to connect to water and sewer services, and Fortron Industries is in the process of finalizing their water connection now. Our Environmental Management Department, which operates the landfill and materials recycling facility on 421, will be connecting soon – so that our own county facilities and operations can have better infrastructure and direct access to water and sewer.

As recent as this article, Invista and four other customers are going through the design and permitting process for connections; so – if all of those move forward – then seven customers will be connected along 421 in just a matter of months.

It’s clear that this has been a need for our region, and that this will benefit businesses who are already here and others who will now see this corridor as a prime place to plant roots, grow and expand business.

We’ve built it, and now I look forward to the months and years ahead as more industries, smart businesses, and diverse, higher-wage jobs come to our region.

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