Gates County lands $900,000 grant

Published 5:46 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ATLANTA, Ga. – The largest share of funding has fell in place for Gates County local government as they move forward with plans to vastly improve the county’s infrastructure.

On Wednesday, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced it will invest $900,000 towards the county’s plans to rehabilitate and expand wastewater treatment facilities to serve a new commercial development located on US 158 in front of Gates County High School.

The announcement was made by H. Phillip Paradice Jr., Director of the EDA’s Regional Office in Atlanta, GA, in a letter addressed to Graham Twine, chairman of the Gates County Board of Commissioners.

The EDA is part of the United States Department of Commerce.

“This project will result in the first public sewer infrastructure in Gates County,” said Twine shortly after the EDA announcement was made. “Having this valuable infrastructure in place will not only enable Gates County to attract new business and industry, it will ultimately result in the creation of new jobs for our citizens. With Gates County’s strategic location in proximity to the Norfolk, VA deep –water ports, this project will provide companies servicing the port a lower cost alternative for their facilities.”

Twine noted that approximately 60 percent of Gates County’s workforce travels out of the county every day for employment opportunities.

“This project will help stem the mass exodus of our workforce leaving the county by providing new jobs that local residents can pursue and obtain,” Twine stated. “As an active participant with North Carolina’s Northeast Commission, a sixteen-county economic development consortium, we are confident the Gates County project will enhance the region’s competitive position as it seeks to grow and diversify our local economies.”

“This is a significant portion of the grant funding we are seeking for this economic development project,” said Gates County Manager Toby Chappell. “We are very excited that this funding has fallen into place as we continue to move forward with this project.”

Gates County is also seeking grant funding from the NC Rural Center ($700,000), Golden LEAF ($200,000), Community Development Block Grant ($350,000) and the  North Carolina Industrial Development Fund, part of the NC Department of Commerce ($500,000).

Chappell said the NC Rural Center, which has the Gates County funding request under study, has indicated that the sewer project is very attractive to development in the county.

All totaled, the $2.65 million in funding requests will pay for upgrades and expansion to the old wastewater treatment plant at the now closed Gates County Correctional Facility. Chappell said the county is in the final stages of completing the paperwork that will lead them to own the facility by the end of this month.

The work to the existing wastewater treatment plant will upgrade it to handle a capacity of 50,000 gallons per day (it’s currently rated at 25,000 gpd). The project also includes all internal piping to Merchants Commerce Center, a planned commercial/residential development across from the high school, as well as extending sewer lines in both directions from the Center (1,500 feet east towards Eason’s Crossroads and 3,000 feet west towards Central Middle School) for future development as well as the pumping stations needed to handle the wastewater flow.

In a related matter, the Gates County Board of Commissioners, at their monthly meeting held Wednesday, approved the final plat of Tract #1 (lots 1-20) of the Merchants Commerce Center.

To date, five businesses have expressed interest in locating to the planned Merchants Commerce Center. Only one has made their intentions public as Mickey Lee of Lee Insurance will build a new office in that commercial complex.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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