LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Leland ranks as the fastest growing town in North Carolina with nearly 10,000 new residents in less than 10 years, according to the Census Bureau.
The town says it plans to keep growing too.
“The heart of the town is the people and the people that have always been here and the people that coming today,” Assistant Town Manager Neil Brooks said.
Brooks is one of the town’s longest tenured employees and he remembers when only a few homes filled the streets of Leland.
“When I first started with the town back in 2006, Leland was just starting to grow what we saw was a lot of permits coming in and that was the first big building boom that we saw,” Brooks said. “So it really was at that point in time the Town of Leland was really just a small town.”
Brooks says Magnolia Greens kicked off the early growth in 1999 and it’s been booming ever since.
“It is kind of a new development,” Brooke said. “We are kind of building the town day after day.”
Economic and Community Development Director Gary Vidmar says growth comes with roadblocks.
“As a newer town, we have challenges with infrastructure to keep up with the growth to make sure that our sewer system, our water system, and our road system is planned in a way that it keeps up with the residential components and residential components,” Vidmar said.
Vidmar says first comes the residents, then comes the commercial and retail business. He hopes high tech manufacturing comes next.
“Not the smoke stacked type industries of past years,” Vidmar said. “Not the big behemoth automobile factories that some communities are trying to attract but the smaller businesses with 25-50 employees and more of a high tech industry.”
Brooks says even though Leland has never had a traditional downtown like Wilmington or Burgaw, there is still rich history that lives there.
Vidmar says town council is voting next week to annex 225 acres of Leland Innovation Park as industrial land for the town.