ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday authorized the county to apply for grant that will assist in the growth of the Direct Pack facility and approved the purchase of new equipment to be used by the soon-to-be-completed Emergency Services building.
There is no dollar value for the Rural Building Reuse grant yet, but the county has pledged to invest at least five percent of the eventual amount, according to the board’s resolution. The Rural Building Reuse grant is state money awarded to counties upon request to indirectly support companies that provide significant economic value to the respective county, according to Economic Developer Martie Butler.
Direct Pack’s expansion into Richmond County was aided by $545,000 in federal funding via a Community Development Block Grant to renovate a vacant facility. The grant was closed out in accordance with federal law after an opportunity for public comment, which no one signed up to participate in.
Butler said Direct Pack has met the requirements that the company use some of the money to “better the building” which was a condition of the grant. She added that these improvements are most pronounced on the exterior of the building and that there is “definitely a lot more work to do out there.”
The company, which specializes in thermoformed packaging for agriculture, food service, supermarket chains and food processors, has added 38 full-time jobs to Richmond County since moving to the area in August 2016. The large majority — 91 percent — of those jobs were of low or moderate income, according to Butler.
The company has planned to invest a total $12.75 million in the county and add 94 jobs over the next four years.
Richmond County Emergency Services received two bids to construct new radio consoles which will be available for use at the service’s new building when dispatchers make the move in early April. The county approved the more expensive bid, a rarity, on the recommendation of Mission Critical Partners who reviewed the proposals and determined that the technology used in the cheaper bid was nearing “end of life” as the manufacturer had stopped producing new parts for it.
The approved radio consoles, roughly $8,800 more expensive than the other bid, will allow dispatchers to remotely access their console from a laptop should they ever require more portable consoles. Emergency Services Director Donna Wright said this could be helpful in the event of a large search for a missing person.
County Manager Bryan Land said that many of the county’s projects have been slowed by weather and the holidays but are still on schedule, with several ahead of schedule. Here are the highlights from Land’s update to the board:
• The U.S. 1 widening project and accompanying waterline relocation is expected to take around 90 more days to complete, which includes expected delays due to weather. The full project should be completed by March 2018, Land said.
• The construction of about 4,500 feet of water line to extend county water service the Windblow community should be completed within the next two weeks.
• The residential portion of the water meter project, which updated the meters for all 7,500 county water customers, has been completed. The county has also ordered meters for the commercial county water customers, which will begin installing in January or February. This project was budgeted for $5.1 million and is projected to come in significantly under budget at $3.3 million.
• The hangar reconstruction at the airport has been slowed but is still on time and under budget.
• Work on the Cordova School gymnasium has slowed but the steel skeleton has been erected and the work on the sports fields has been completed.
• Construction on the Enviva Biomass plant is still on pace to open in December 2018 or early January 2019.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]