Local governments have the difficult task of protecting the public’s interest while meeting the diverse needs of their citizens and businesses. This challenge is simplified when everyone works together. Public and private partnerships and collaborations are essential to maximize our efforts to strengthen our community and help companies Target Laurinburg/Scotland County. There are a number of new, promising developments to our community that began this year which illustrate the value of partnerships.
One such example is the construction of a new commercial plant on 15-401 in Laurinburg and the expansion of the existing plant in Laurel Hill, both by FCC North Carolina, LLC. This announcement meant investment and the creation of jobs for our community.
Understandably, everyone in the community is excited with this new announcement but most do not fully realize the tremendous efforts needed to make this dream a reality. These expansions could not have happened without the collaboration between the City of Laurinburg, Scotland County, the Economic Development Corporation, and state officials.
To support FCC’s announcement, the city is in the process of completing a major infrastructure project to the industrial park in the northern part of the city. This project includes upgrades to our water, sewer, electric and fiber services for the purpose of expanding industrial opportunities, improving the city’s utility systems and offering better fire protection to city residents.
The total cost of this project is estimated to be just under $12 million. Through the collaboration between the city and the county, the county secured $3,050,000 in grant monies to aid the city with this project. Because of this, the city only had to finance roughly $8.5 million instead of the full $12 million. This investment project will increase revenues in the General Fund by increasing our tax base and als0 contribute to all the enterprise funds through increased services. This combined effort of the Economic Development Corporation, Scotland County and the city of Laurinburg illustrates how jointly working together can ensure the timely completion and impact of a project that will contribute to the overall economic well being of our community.
Another example of community partnership is the collaborative efforts of the city, the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority and the state NC Department of Transportation to fund and erect the new lights at the interchanges of U.S. 74 and South Main Street and U.S. 74 and the US 15/401 Bypass. There are over 50 businesses, employing more than 1,000 people, that serve travelers who pass by those exits.
To support these businesses and jobs, sixteen 100-foot poles with lights were installed to entice travelers to exit onto the main thoroughfares of Laurinburg. This project is expected to increase traffic into our community, to increase business revenues and to potentially recruit new business. This project cost $455,000 with $255,000 being funded by the city, $100,000 funded by the tourism authority, and $100,000 from the state department.
Over the last year the city and county have begun a new partnership that has proven to be a great success in fighting the substandard properties we have within our community. For substandard properties in tax foreclosure status, the City and County have come together to remove the substandard property at no hard costs to either entity.
The city uses existing staff to demolish the structure and the county waives the tipping fees, which are a large portion of the cost associated with demolishing a structure. This past year we have increased this program even more by partnering with Habitat for Humanity for those structures that are able to be repaired. This new public/private partnership allows habitat to be able to serve more working families with less money and in a quicker time frame. This three-entity partnership has created a successful win-win-win for our community and could not exist if not for the willingness to resourcefully work together.
Yet another important partnership our community boasts is between the City and the Laurinburg Downtown Revitalization Corporation. This partnership helps to support our downtown area through contributions and in-kind services that help attract businesses to move to our downtown locations. A city staff member is a voting member on the corporation and city staff assists the chairman of the Board of Directors, which helps to eliminate the need for a paid downtown director.
The concept of public\private partnership is one that has become a trend amongst our government agencies and has created a better quality of life for our community and growth opportunities for our businesses. Additionally, these and future partnerships help create a business community that further fosters collaboration and illustrates why companies should Target Laurinburg/Scotland County.
Charles D. Nichols III is Laurinburg’s city manager.