As Leland’s population continues to grow largely from retirees in planned housing estate communities, the city is now looking for ways to attract businesses that could provide gainful employment and support young residents and families.
The city has approved a contract with Elkin-based Creative Economic Development to develop a 5-10 year economic development plan and create an incentive policy to attract businesses to its Innovation Park and Gateway District.
The work should last six months and cost $45,900.
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In the more than 30 years since its founding, Leland has grown from a town of a few hundred people to a sprawling suburb of over 25,000 people. This growth in recent years has attracted more businesses, but its retail landscape has been dominated by big-box stores and restaurant chains serving mostly self-contained communities that cater to recent retirees.
North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce executive director Dana Fischer said most new businesses in the region over the past two years have been service-oriented, which typically doesn’t offer the type of salary which will attract families. Small local businesses and jobs that pay decent wages amid widespread rent increases have taken longer to develop.
It’s an issue that could put the city in a long-term dilemma, as employers struggle to fill positions as the city grows and ages.
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The city has tried to dampen this dynamic by attracting more jobs with competitive wages, hoping to attract manufacturing and technology jobs through the annexation of the Leland Innovation Park, which offers a large industrial space located near major transit hubs.
The city’s economic development committee identified the lack of labor force development and zoned land for industrial expansion as major impediments to business growth prior to park annexation. Over the next two years, there were few additions to the site, with some potential tenants even choosing the Wilmington International Airport area over the Innovation Park.
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Similarly, the city’s Gateway District, which runs along Village Road roughly from US 17 to Sturgeon Creek, is also offering flexible zoning in an effort to encourage developers to reshape the area that will be downtown. Leland. It has also seen little redevelopment.
Now the city is considering adding incentives to help attract potential employers.
Recent work by Creative Economic Development includes a study sponsored by the North Carolina Economic Development Association that examined the incentive policies of municipalities across the state.
The study found that most incentive policies were in the form of cash paid after five years and based on a percentage of the net new property tax revenue generated, typically between 50% and 80% of that. that the company brought.
Typical eligibility requirements included an investment threshold of at least $1 million, as well as provisions for job creation, salaries, and health care contributions. Annual performance reports and reimbursement of incentives if conditions are not met were also common across the state.
According to Shallotte Mayor Walt Eccard, the town has a permanent points-based incentive policy, but so far no business has taken advantage of it. Eccard said the salary and reporting elements were a barrier for some companies that had already applied.
Brunswick County also recently approved an incentive grant for Precision Swiss Products, which announced last year that it would move its headquarters to the International Logistics Park on the border of Brunswick and Columbus counties.
The company will receive $270,000 from the county over three years – in addition to the $1.8 million it receives from the state over 10 years – in return for an investment of more than $8 million in the modernization of the site and the creation of 125 full-time jobs.
Reporter John Orona can be reached at 910-343-2327 or [email protected]