WILMINGTON NC (WWAY) — From tourism to agriculture, Pender County has a diverse economy and leaders there are proud to tout a relatively new industrial park as a major advantage for industries looking for a new place to relocate or expand.
Pender Commerce Park includes 310 developable acres located adjacent to the New Hanover County line along Highway 421 and it is less than 10 minutes from I-40.
Right now, there are two existing businesses in the park — Acme Smoked Fish and Empire Distributors. More recently, Coastal Beverage announced plans to build a distribution center which will add 168 jobs and Fed-Ex is building an 18,000-square-feet sorting hub with plans to employ 25 employees.
With its proximity to major highways and the NC State Port in Wilmington, Pender Commerce Park is in a desirable location but those aren’t the only reasons.
“There’s fully functional industrial sites there, on-site wastewater treatment plant as well as a water treatment plant,” said Pender County Assistant Manager Chad McEwen.
Meanwhile, on the county’s eastern side, tourism continues to grow. With the near completion of a new bridge in Surf City which spans the intracostal waterway, officials are hopeful this improvement to transportation infrastructure will boost tourism along Topsail Island.
“That bridge is a huge accomplishment for that part of the county as well as the beach communities, the ability to access the island for tourists to get on and off the island safely and quickly and not be dependent upon the bridge having to raise for navigational purposes,” McEwen said.
From an economic and industrial development relocation perspective, one major advantage Pender County offers is diversity.
“It has the tourism on the east side of the county, it has Highway 421 and Pender Commerce Park with access to the ports as well as access to Highway 74 and then in Burgaw, if the ports aren’t essential or you may need an existing site or a different building, Burgaw may provide a better option for you with access to I-40 and I-95,” McEwen said.
Some other recent economic development successes include BlueArrow Warehousing and Logistics’ decision to move to the Cape Fear Industrial complex building in Rocky Point with a half million dollars in investment and the creation of 24 jobs.
“Countywide, there’s been great movement and progress in the area of economic development,” McEwen said.
When businesses make a decision to locate in Pender County, McEwen says they rarely leave.
“Once industries get there, the climate provides them with the ability to expand,” McEwen said.
One example is Mojo Musical Supply, LLC, in Burgaw. The owners recently purchased the Shell building from Pender County to accommodate their growing business and they’ve hired additional employees.
“Our goal is to continue the great momentum we have created with Pender Commerce Park as well as countywide and to continue to work with our economic development partners Wilmington Business Development as well as North Carolina Southeast,” McEwen said.