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Bladenboro creates Economic Development Strategic Planning Committee

By: Erin Smith

The town of Bladenboro created the Bladenboro Economic Development Strategic Planning Committee and retroactively appointed 9 members at the April Town Board meeting. The committee includes three members of the Bladenboro Town Board, three members from Boost the ‘Boro and three at-large members. Making up the committee are Town Commissioner Sarah Benson, Town Commissioner Cris Harrelson, Mayor Rufus Duckworth,  Parst “Pete” Freeman, Claudette Guy, Jon Hasbrouck, Charles Peterson, Joseph Russ and Don White.

O’Daniel

According to Town Administrator John O’Daniel, the committee conducted one meeting last month for an orientation session. O’Daniel said the committee was created after a town board meeting in which Bladenboro Town Commissioner Cris Harrelson expressed a desire for the town to be more active when it comes to matters of economic development.

“This is an opportunity to work with the Rural Center and put together a 5-year-plan for economic development,” said O’Daniel.

Currently, the committee is preparing to create a survey to be sent out the town’s residents to get their input on what type of development they want to see in the town. “Economic development is a slow process. Our goal is to make Bladenboro more viable and an attractive place to bring a business,” said O’Daniel.

A drive through the Bladenboro downtown finds restaurants, retail shops, and some empty retail spaces that are ready and waiting for your business. Currently, the town has an industrial park and the downtown is home to restaurants and retail shopping. Town Clerk Melanie Hester figured the Commercial Real Property Value in the town in fiscal year 2016 was $55,517.50 and the Industrial Real Property Value in the town in 2016 was $66,151.68; the Business Personal Property (equipment) Value in the town in 2016 was $37,930.05.

“Hurricane Matthew showed us how important our efforts are and why we need to prioritize economic development. We lost several businesses we hated to see leave (due to damage from the storm),” said O’Daniel.

After Hurricane Matthew, the town saw the closure of the Bladenboro Eye Clinic. The Medicine Shoppe pharmacy had to relocate to another building while repairs are being made to the original location. O’Daniel said Carroll’s Poultry, which is located in the Bladenboro Industrial Park, is slated to open in the next couple of months.

O’Daniel said the next meeting date for the committee has not yet been announced.

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