Harnett County Commissioners Approve $5 Million Match for Workforce Development Center

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Harnett County Commissioners Approve $5 Million Match for Workforce Development Center

Approved at Board meeting on June 19

The Harnett County Board of Commissioners voted to approve $5 million in matching funds to renovate the Magnolia Avenue School building into a workforce development center.

“We are excited about the plans to renovate the Magnolia Avenue School building,” said Brent Trout, Harnett County Manager. “Establishing a workforce development center in Harnett County will better serve our citizens and industry partners. We will now have the resources to provide specialized training to address the needs of our industry partners, which will ultimately bring more jobs to the County.”

In 2021, the City of Dunn and the Town of Four Oaks formed the I-95/I-40 Crossroads of America Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) to encourage and promote economic development, including job creation along the I-95 corridor.  

William P. Elmore Jr., Mayor of Dunn, said he was thrilled that Harnett County joined in the efforts to provide workforce training in the area.

“The recently formed I-95/ I-40 Alliance between the City of Dunn and the Town of Four Oaks has created a regional partnership that continues to grow,” said Elmore Jr. “The County’s participation in renovating this historic building to provide an advanced workforce training center will benefit area residents and pay dividends to many future generations.”

The Alliance received a commitment from the North Carolina Legislature to assist in the renovation and development of the building but needed a local match to fund the $10 million renovation project fully. The Alliance requested that match at the Harnett County Work Session meeting on April 11.

“Workforce training is the key to obtaining the quality of jobs we seek for the I-95 corridor. With these matching funds, the leadership of Harnett County makes a bold statement about their commitment for quality growth within the area. It takes all parties working together to accomplish great progress and with this approval the Harnett County Commissioners show their partnership as we strive together to create above average work opportunities for the future,” said Harold Keen, Chairman of the I-95/ I-40 Alliance.

A Memorandum of Understanding was established with both parties that outlines:

  • Harnett County is the owner of the property;
  • The County and the Alliance shall enter into a lease for the property set at $1.00 per year plus utility costs;
  • Harnett County shall pay (50%) of all invoices presented to the Alliance for payment up until the $5,000,000.00 cap is reached;
  • The Board recommended the appointment of one voting director and three ex-officio directors to the Alliance Board. The Alliance Board will then consider and approve the submitted appointments.
  • Once renovations are complete, Central Carolina Community College will occupy the space and offer customized workforce development training for existing or new industry partners.

The center will include incubator and soft landing spaces for new industries to begin interviewing and hiring personnel before their facility opens. 

“The Advanced Technology & Biotech Training Center in Dunn is a display of collaboration among numerous partners as well as a commitment to providing better job opportunities for those who call this region home. This facility will increase both the City of Dunn and Harnett County's competitiveness in their efforts to recruit quality sustainable jobs to the area. We are very much appreciative to our partners at the county, state legislature, Central Carolina Community College, and U.S Congress for their partnership on this transformational project. This facility will be at the center of our region's economic development success for generations to come,” said Reid Williams, President of Alliance.

The agreement can be viewed in the June 19 Agenda packet, beginning at page 608.

For more news and information for Harnett County, North Carolina Government please visit harnett.org.

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