01/19/10 — Rescue group's building faces concerns

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Rescue group's building faces concerns

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 19, 2010 1:46 PM

MAR MAC -- The weakened economy is to blame for the empty retail spots at Mar Mac Pointe shopping center, says the executive director of the state Association of Rescue and Emergency Medical Services.

Gordon Joyner said the association built its new headquarters at the site with hopes of renting out the extra space to small businesses. The former association headquarters had grown too small to be practical, he said, and emergency officials believed building a new facility with retail openings would help pay for the space.

But after more than a year, the retail spots remain empty and the former association office, which officials had hoped to sell or rent out also is unoccupied.

"(There's) nobody filling up anywhere now," Joyner said of the current retail climate. "This economy is tough. But we're in a position when things turn, we'll have the infrastructure in place, and we can take advantage of it."

Mar Mac Pointe is located near the intersection of U.S. 13 and the U.S. 117 bypass south of Goldsboro.

Wayne County has been the home of the state organization's headquarters for many years. But the old headquarters had become too cramped for the association's four full-time employees. The new facility was designed to not only provide more office space but also to make room for training.

Rent from tenants of the new shopping center was supposed to help support the association, which performs jobs such as maintaining databases of special rescuer skills statewide.

For example, if a bridge collapses, the state group would know immediately what units to dispatch from the 27,000-plus rescuers spread out over more than 550 ambulance and emergency service squads across North Carolina.

The four employees also administer more than 400 scholarships for such workers.

But finding a way to attract retailers or a buyer or tenant for the old, 1,400-square-foot building next to the Wayne Implement Auction has been more difficult than expected. The association has placed its former office on a national registry, hoping to attract businesses.

The executive director says the empty space has not put any serious pressure on the association's budget because members statewide continue to pay dues. But the additional income would have been welcome, he said.

Whatever happens, Joyner said he believes the association will continue to operate out of its new facility.

"We're in here. We aren't going nowhere," Joyner said. "We're using about a third of the building ourselves. We've been here 50 years or so, and I hope to be here for at least 50 more. Although maybe I won't be here, that's what I'd like to see."