The Lincoln Economic Development Association celebrated with city, county, state and airport officials on Friday as they recognized the completion of sewer services to the Lincolnton-Lincoln County Airport and to the county’s future fourth major industrial park in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, NC Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker and Existing Industry Specialist Uconda Dunn were given an industrial tour of the county to familiarize Decker with Lincoln County’s valuable assets available to assist in the growth of North Carolina. The tour included visits to Lincoln County Industrial Park, the H.S. Smith Data Center Site, Airlie Business Park, Indian Creek Industrial Park as well as the site for the future Airport Business Park.
“Lincoln County is filled with foresight and vision; I want to commend you for that forward thinking and investment in order to prepare for future economic times,” Decker said. “Economic development is a community effort and will not happen if it does not start at a community level. Growth is coming, and it appears from my visit today that Lincolnton and Lincoln County has a handle on that future growth.”
The ribbon cutting celebration honored several years of hard work and dedication, beginning in 2009 when the Lincoln Economic Development Association initiated an Airport Business Park study to examine the potential for a business park to be developed near the airport.
By examining the development opportunities in the area, the study found the existing 32 acres of property suitable for large scale development, acreage yield, preliminary sites, rough grading and infrastructure necessary to serve the proposed business park. The plan, completed as a joint project between LEDA, Lincoln County Planning and Inspections and the City of Lincolnton Planning Department, depicted the vision of a business park marketed to higher-end operations including corporate headquarters, light industrial, research and design, aeronautics and motor sports related companies.
While the site was served by public water, the study indicated that significant upgrades were needed for the sanitary sewer service. With no specific plan previously developed, Lincoln County, the City of Lincolnton and LEDA came together in 2010 to discuss options available to address the best choice of action. With the assistance of Centralina Council of Government, Lincoln County began writing a grant to apply for funding for the sewer project.
“What a strategic opportunity to make our airport an economic player,” LEDA Chairman Bo King said. “This, in addition to our existing industrial parks, will increase our exposure to other categories of operations that we have not had in the past.”
The airport sewer line was made possible through a US Department of Commerce-Community Trade and Assistance Economic Development Administration grant, providing $1,631,625 of the $1,717,500 needed for the total project. Lincoln County and the City of Lincolnton gave a local match of $85,875. As a result of the sewer line project, the vision by all entities to provide additional hangars and develop a business park surrounding the airport will soon come to fruition.
“This is another exciting day for Lincoln County,” Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Chairman Alex Patton said. “This project opens up an entirely new sector of businesses that can and will call Lincoln County home. I want to thank LEDA for their efforts as well as the US Department of Commerce. Without this grant, this project would have taken many years to materialize. We anxiously await the day this park will create jobs for the citizens of Lincoln County. Thanks to all of those involved in making this a reality.”