11/26/07 — Development Alliance sets sights on keeping industry

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Development Alliance sets sights on keeping industry

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 26, 2007 1:45 PM

For the Wayne County Development Alliance, recruiting new business and industry is only one piece of the economic development puzzle.

The other -- primarily the responsibility of existing industry specialist Mike Haney -- is retention.

It's a job, he emphasized, that involves much more than supplying the occasional incentive grant like was given to Reuel Inc. earlier this year.

"That's a small part of what I do -- once in a blue moon," he said.

Rather, he explained, most of what he does is help the county's industries find ways to operate more smoothly and hopefully more profitably.

One such example is Southern Pride Meat Co., a hog slaughterhouse and processing plant.

Faced with a failing wastewater treatment plant about three years ago, the company began working to upgrade and improve it.

During that time, however, explained manager and co-owner Dave Contras, they had to find some other way to treat their waste.

So, for two years, they trucked it -- approximately 4,000 gallons a day -- to treatment plants in Kinston and Fayetteville at a cost of $3,000 a week. In all, the lack of a treatment plant cost Southern Pride more than $300,000.

"It was really just handicapping this company. It really hurt us," Contras said. "We'd have done some expansion and hired some more people (if not for the added expense)."

Then, he explained, about nine months ago he was talking about his problem with county Commissioner Andy Anderson, who referred him to Haney.

It was, he said, exactly what he needed.

"Mike got involved and just got people together and got them to understand," he said. "I sure wish I'd called (the alliance) earlier.

"I'd encourage any business, if they've got a problem, to contact them. They'll go out of their way to help."

With Haney's help, Contras was able to receive permission from the Goldsboro wastewater treatment plant to haul his waste there. It was an option that both sides said was briefly discussed before, but one that didn't work out.

This time, though, explained Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear, Haney was able to help them get the necessary permits from the state to accept the waste.

"We were glad to help," she said. "It helps a business in the county, and it was wonderful working with Mike. The (alliance) does a lot of good things for the county."

Southern Pride completed its upgrades in late October and now is back to treating its own waste.

"That's really kind of a typical project," Haney said. "They had a problem and we were able to assist them with that problem by getting all the parties together. This is more of what I do."