01/01/06 — Economic development on agenda

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Economic development on agenda

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 1, 2006 2:04 AM

Economic development and the budget will be extremely important issues in the next year, Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said Friday.

To begin the new year, the county's Board of Commissioners will discuss both topics during the board's Tuesday meeting at 9 a.m. in the commissioners' room of the county courthouse.

The first public hearing will allow the public to consider providing lots 18 and 19 of Park East to the Goldsboro Committee of 100 to assist a company in locating to the county. Economic Development Commission President Joanna Thompson said the incentives would provide a contingency plan for the county.

"It is a way for preparing ourselves for the possibility," she said. "You have to be able to move fast in economic development."

The public will also be given the opportunity to discuss the appropriation of $1.25 million to an industry that could provide at least 250 jobs for the county.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said cooperation among the county, the Economic Development Commission and the municipalities could provide the incentive for industries to locate to Wayne County.

"The is a process to put the wheels in motion," Smith said. "That way, if we needed to, we could assist a company thinking of coming to Wayne County in the next 30 days."

At 9:15 a.m., another public hearing will be conducted concerning the conveyance of about 20 acres at ParkEast to assist Andrew Corp. in locating a company to Wayne County. The hearing will also cover providing $1.2 million and three $30,000 grants to assist in possibly providing up to 300 jobs for the area. The grants would be issued to the Andrew Corp. from taxes received by the county from the company.

Andrew Corp., a global designer, manufacturer and supplier of communications equipment and services, will add 204 new jobs and relocate 232 existing jobs from the company's Smithfield facility when operations begin next year, said Economic Development Commission President Joanna Thompson.

Over the next six years, it is projected that Andrew Corp. will invest $11.5 million in the project, Mrs. Thompson said. Construction of the company's new 125,000 sq. ft. is expected to begin in January, she said.

The commissioners will also consider a recommendation to establish a new pay grade for the sheriff and the register of deeds. The new pay grade would provide a Wayne County sheriff with a minimum of $52,875 to a maximum of $82,466.

As of Dec. 5, the highest paid sheriff in the region was the Wilson County sheriff receiving $104,376, while the lowest salary went to the Duplin County sheriff, according to a Wayne County salary survey. That official received $60,946 in 2005.

The pay grade would increase the minimum salary of the register of deeds to $45,675. The maximum salary available would be $71,239.

Smith said Wayne County's salaries should compete with surrounding counties and counties of similar population.

The commissioners will also consider:

* A petition to include Hawkins Drive to the state maintenance system. The street is in sections 3 and 4 of the Chris Manor subdivision, which is located in the Buck Swamp Township.

* The appointment of a participating municipal elected official to the Eastern Carolina RPO Transportation Advisory Committee for a two-year term. The current member is Mount Olive Mayor B.R. "Ruff" Higgins and he is eligible for reappointment.