05/24/2024
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The Bladen County Board of Commissioners has been discussing matters involving economic development issues in their most recent planning and SWOT sessions. Some board members have expressed concerns with the process of recruiting new businesses and industries to the county.

The Bladen County Economic Development office along with Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial and the Committee of 100 all work together to recruit business and industry to Bladen County. The mission of Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial is to assist industries in locating financing to help them expand and create jobs. The NC Rural Center describes Bladen’s Bloomin’ as a “nonprofit revolving loan program and Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial as a nonprofit real estate program.”

Bladen County Commissioner Ray Britt said in a recent interview with BladenOnline.com that he was concerned and said he would like to see more transparency with the local economic development process. (See the complete interview with Ray Britt here).

Several area businesses and industries have received assistance in the past from Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial. “The DMV Call Center, Delton, Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery, Cape Fear Heating & Cooling, the Bladenboro Health Clinic, Blacks Tire Service Goodyear are good examples of projects that really had huge impacts on the community.  We have helped dozens of others,” said Huestess in an email last week.

Concerns have also been voiced regarding the salary paid to Bladen County Economic Development Director Chuck Huestess. According to Bladen County Finance Director Lisa Coleman, Huestess is paid  $75,214.82 plus travel of $7,800.00 annually from the county not including benefits. According to a Form 990 filed with the state of North Carolina in 2014, Huestess also receives $35,759 from Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial for his efforts in support of economic development.

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