08/10/12 — County OKs $70,000 grant for water work

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County OKs $70,000 grant for water work

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 10, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners Tuesday morning awarded a $70,000 economic development incentive to the Mt. Olive Pickle Co., and, in a separate action, approved an application for $221,865 in state Rural Operating Assistance Program funding for the GATEWAY bus system.

Both actions followed brief public hearings.

Economic Development Alliance President Joanna Helms told commissioners that the pickle company, which employs up to 1,000 people at its peak season, is prepared to make a multimillion-dollar investment in the county.

The $70,000 would aid, in conjunction with grants and loans received by the town of Mount Olive, with improvements to the town's water system, she said.

"This will help to do a couple of things -- improve water quality, improve projects, and of course, increase volume in the area," she said. "The bigger picture here is that this is really going to enhance the marketability of the Mount Olive Industrial Park in the future to medium- and large-size water users. This is very important to development in Wayne County."

Mt. Olive Pickle Co. is a large consumer of water, Mt. Olive President Bill Bryan told the board.

"Like many communities, the infrastructure in Mount Olive needs an upgrade," he said. "They do have a $2 million project. Joanna touched on some of the benefits in terms of volume, quality and increase in capacity. It also improves the fire protection system."

The town, he said, needs the local dollars to leverage funding from grants.

Mount Olive officials approached the pickle company for a $100,000 contribution and the company has agreed to do that, he said.

The $70,000 would be extended to the town for the project as well if the company would agree to a $10 million investment over the next five years, Bryan said.

The company is agreeable to that, he said.

"We have invested $11 million in plant equipment in Wayne County in the last two years, a little over $22 million over the past five years," Bryan said. "Our payroll has increased $7 million in the last five years to about $30 million last year.

"We think this is a good project for the county, for the town, for the company. We are pleased to collaborate with both parties in trying to bring this project to fruition."

The town has received just over $2 million from the state for the addition of water lines and a new well and filtration system to improve water quality -- particularly in the area of the pickle plant and industrial park.

The $70,000 will be appropriated from the county's economic development reserve.

County Manager Lee Smith said the application for the Rural Operating Assistance Program for GATEWAY was an annual process that had changed little over the years.

The programs included in the application are:

* $89,622 for the Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance Program that provides operating assistance for the public transportation of elderly and disabled citizens.

* $33,827 for the Employment Transportation Assistance Program that provides operating assistance for the public transportation of persons with employment related transportation needs.

* $98,416 for the Rural General Public Program that provides operating assistance for the public transportation of persons living in non-urban areas of the county.