It’s hard to believe that 2018 is already drawing to a close, but they say time flies when you’re having fun. That saying also applies when you’re staying busy, and as your Commission Chairman, I can assure you that Alexander County officials and staff have been making great strides to improve the lives of our citizens and to enhance the business climate.
The new Borealis Compounds in the Alexander Industrial Park is preparing to begin operations in the near future. They are currently completing the upfit of the building. This Austrian company has invested approximately $15 million in the local economy, and is hiring at least 37 employees who will earn above average wages.
Speaking of the Alexander Industrial Park, Commissioners approved funding of a new shell building, which is currently planned to be located behind Craftmaster Furniture. This 50,000 SF building will put Alexander County on the map in North Carolina and beyond. One of the major takeaways of the recently completed Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy was the need for shell buildings, as industries seek pre-constructed buildings that have the attributes they need, while allowing them to customize to their specific needs. Once complete and sold, this new building will result in more investment and more good-paying jobs in Alexander County. Proceeds from the sale of the building will be reinvested into the construction of another building, so we can have desirable shell buildings on the market for years to come.
I’m also excited about the county’s water and sewer line expansions that will positively impact both citizens and businesses. The water line project will encompass 14 miles of nine different roads, including parts of Teague Town Road, Poly Bowman Road, B&T Lane, Ned Herman Road, Zeb Watts Road, Liberty Grove Church Road, Dula Loop, Fox Court, and Icard Ridge Road. The county will also be installing almost six miles of sewer lines in Bethlehem, which will enhance opportunities for economic development and housing. Construction on these projects is expected to begin in mid-2019.
Alexander County has also received a grant to extend sewer service to Stony Point Elementary School, which is currently utilizing two septic tanks. The project will ensure reliable service for the future of the school. This project, which is expected to begin in late 2019, is possible because of the county’s recent efforts to extend sewer service from Hiddenite to Shurtape Technologies in Stony Point, which helped retain 160 jobs in Alexander County. Most of the funding for these water and sewer projects comes from grants and no-interest or low-interest loans. These additional water and sewer lines will make a lasting impact on our county, our residents, and our businesses.
I know that lack of broadband internet service is a problem for many people in Alexander County, and we are diligently working to determine solutions. Currently, we are awaiting notice of a grant application from the Appalachian Regional Commission, which we hope to use to help fund a “pilot program” with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get the ball rolling. Once we get an ISP on board, we hope progress will grow more rapidly.
I’m sure that many of you have heard about the NCDOT’s plan to make NC Hwy. 127 a four-lane road, which is scheduled to begin in 2023. With the road project, sewer project, and potential housing projects in Bethlehem, the county has contracted with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments to provide technical planning assistance for a “Bethlehem Community Plan” to be completed by September 30, 2019. The WPCOG and county planning staff have formed a steering committee of local citizens and business owners to assist with the plan’s objectives and goals.
I’m also excited about projects that are occurring in downtown Taylorsville, including the consolidation of eight county departments into one building. Construction is progressing well on the former Community One Bank building, and we expect departments to begin the moving process in early 2019. In addition, the new Alexander County Courthouse Park, on which the Taylorsville Rotary Club will soon build a performance stage, will be a draw to the downtown area, especially with the murals on nearby buildings.
Our sales tax revenues continue to grow because more and more citizens are supporting our local businesses. By shopping locally, you’re helping our merchants and our county, and I commend you for that.
As you can see, Alexander County is moving forward, and momentum is increasing as we plan for the future. We have a lot of exciting and worthwhile projects in the works right now, and I’m proud to be a part of this exciting time in the county’s history.