08/06/14 — Mount Olive officials indicate a potential new industry

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Mount Olive officials indicate a potential new industry

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 6, 2014 2:06 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive town officials continue to hint that an announcement could be on the horizon concerning a new tenant in the town's industrial park.

Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. said during Monday night's town board meeting said as many as three industries are looking at the industrial park -- anyone of which could mean 150 jobs, he said.

But as has been the case at other meetings, no real details have been forthcoming -- only that the interest in part is being spurred by the town airport located across the Old Mount Olive Highway from the industrial park.

Town officials have used the lure of a new industry to promote the airport's impact on economic development.

Monday night's meeting was no different as the board approved an agreement with Wayne County commissioners in which the county would surrender its half ownership of the airport to the town.

"What Wayne County is asking us, they would like convey their interest in the Mount Olive Airport to the town of Mount Olive with a written agreement to continue to fund the Mount Olive Airport operating budget at an amount not less than $33,281 annually," McDonald said. "That is what they are doing now.

"That doesn't mean that somewhere down the road if things get to where we need more money that we can't go back to them. It does mean they are not going to fund it any less."

Town Commissioner Joe Scott said county commissioners had broached the subject because of liability concerns even thought the town has always covered the liability.

"The advantage to this is the county is completely out of it now with the exception of operations which they are going to support," he said. "I think this is the best move for us as a town and for economic development."

Scott added that the town received transportation points for road projects from the state by having an airport near the industrial park.

"So this is a plus for our town," he said.

In a related matter, the board approved accepting two state grants for rehabilitation of the runway, taxiway and apron at the airport. One grant is for $1.2 million and the other for $144,226. Both require 10 percent matches from the town.

The grants were approved following a public hearing at which no one spoke.

No one from the public spoke during the hearing.

Also approved Monday night was a $100,000 loan from the now disbanded Eastern Region Trust Fund that is being funneled through the county.

The $100,000 will help the town match the grant funds. The town will loan the remaining $44,226 to the airport.

A second Eastern Region loan of $40,000, again made through the county, will be used for the town's share of the cost for improvements at the Hillsboro Street railroad crossing.