Here are some of the top economic development headlines so far this year impacting Southeastern North Carolina. Regional economic development announcements have come in the form of new businesses, infrastructure and a few operational milestones.
NATIONAL GYPSUM RETURNS
Charlotte-based National Gypsum has hired 45 people as of August as it gears up for operations planned for the end of 2018. The company is reopening its shuttered Wilmington plant on Sunnyvale Drive, which was idled in 2009.
Wilmington was in the running with Tampa, Florida, for the reopening of a closed National Gypsum plant. But in May, the company’s CEO Tom Nelson came to Wilmington to announce the company’s decision to reopen in the Port City.
National Gypsum officials said the company plans to spend $25 million over five years for upgrades and new equipment at the site. The city and county offered a five-year incentives package of $580,000 if the company hits spending and hiring targets.
PENDER GAINS INDUSTRY BUMP
Pender County’s business and employment base is set to grow.
New Jersey-based BlueArrow Warehousing & Logistics LLC signed a lease in July for a space in the Cape Fear Industrial Complex in Rocky Point. The company will initially employ 20 to 25 workers.
Mojotone LLC set up shop at its new location at Pender Progress Industrial Park in Burgaw. The larger space will give the company the ability to double in size.
FedEx Freight and Coastal Beverage Co. plan to build in Pender Commerce Park. When complete, FedEx Freight plans to bring in 25 jobs, and a new Coastal Beverage headquarters is set to house all its existing 140 employees.
HEALTH PROJECTS ON THE RISE
The area’s health network is growing from company bases to education.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the area’s largest employer, is constructing an orthopedic hospital at its main campus on 17th Street. The new facility, set to be finished in late 2019, will include 108 patient beds and about 135,000 square feet of space on three floors. The total cost of the facility is estimated to be $91 million for construction and equipment. EmergeOrtho also has plans to construct a three-story, 55,578-square-foot building in The Villages at Brunswick Forest.
The University of North Carolina Wilmington in January broke ground on its $66 million Veterans Hall, which is slated to house the university’s College of Health and Human Services. And Brunswick Community College also has plans for a $5.7 million allied health facility.
APITURE OPENS UP SHOP
Live Oak Bank has expanded its reach with new fintech projects, with plans for more in the future.
Apiture, a joint venture between Live Oak Bancshares and Atlanta-based First Data, opened in downtown Wilmington, in more than 12,600 square feet of space on the fifth floor of the Bank of America building on North Third Street. The company employed 80 people as of August.
Live Oak in February also launched Canapi Inc. and is expanding with a third building.
BRUNSWICK BID RAMPS UP
Brunswick County’s private nonprofit economic development group has made strides.
In July, Brunswick Business & Industry Development (Brunswick BID) moved into 1,600 square feet of space in The Villages at Brunswick Forest. Brunswick BID is contracted by the county to provide economic development services and was previously housed at the government complex in Bolivia.
Brunswick BID Executive Director Bill Early began his role Jan. 1. The group has been in formation since last year, moving economic development efforts from underneath the umbrella of Brunswick County government to the new organization.
ALCAMI IS ACQUIRED
Madison Dearborn Partners LLC’s acquisition of Alcami Corp. closed in the third quarter of 2018. Alcami Corp., a drug development and manufacturing company previously headquartered in Wilmington, reached an agreement in June to be acquired by the Chicago-based private equity firm.
Alcami officially moved headquarters from Wilmington to Durham in July 2017, giving up a planned $15.8 million investment to expand its headquarters at its facility on North 23rd Street and a $500,000 incentives package from the city and county.
MEGACORP EXPANDS FOOTPRINT
Wilmington-headquartered MegaCorp Logistics is expanding its presence in Wilmington.
The logistics firm, which has about 150 employees, could grow to 175 with additional space.
MegaCorp purchased more than 47,000 square feet of space on Ashes Drive this spring. The company plans to renovate one Ashes Drive space while continuing to lease the other until the company requires additional space.
MegaCorp was also named as a Top 40 Freight Brokerage Firm in the U.S. by Transport Topics this year.
INDUSTRY ON THE LINE
Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s plan to install water and sewer lines along the U.S. 421 industrial corridor is ongoing with completion expected in mid-2019.
A nearly $12.8 million construction contract was awarded to Goldsboro- based T.A. Loving Company for the project in January. Construction began in June to bring the utilities along U.S. 421 to the Pender County line.
County and economic development leaders say the project is critical to further development of the industrial corridor and will make sites there shovel- ready.
PORT SAILS WITH GROWTH
N.C. Ports reached record growth in the fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30.
Officials reported a record 38 percent year-over-year growth in the number of containers that moved through the Port of Wilmington in FY18. Year-over-year general cargo growth was up 18 percent.
The ports of Wilmington and Morehead City also reached record financials. Operating revenue was at $48.3 million for FY18, up 4 percent over a previous high of $46.6 million in FY 2018.
Officials attributed Wilmington’s port growth to its ongoing $200 million in infrastructure improvements.
ILM ADDS ROUTES
The Wilmington International Airport has greater access to major cities with new nonstop flights.
The third carrier to offer flights at ILM, United Airlines began daily nonstop flights to Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport in April.
American Airlines began Saturday-only service this summer from ILM to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Those flights will begin again for daily nonstop routes in December.
American began daily year-round nonstops to Reagan National Airport in May and summer seasonal service to Chicago in June.