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By: Charlotte Smith

According to a proposed plan presented to the board of commissioners on Monday evening, Tax Payers could pay 60% of construction costs to grow Bladen County according to Chuck Huestess, Director of Economic Development Commission and with Bladen’s Bloomin’.

In the past, Bladen’s Bloomin’ would build a speculative building and the Bladen County Commissioners would approve a grant to a non-profit such as Bladen’s Bloomin’ or the Committee of 100 for the down payment of the speculative building, but around 2012 those type of real estate transactions between governments and non-profits were ruled unconstitutional according to North Carolina’s constitution during a court case, explained Chuck Huestess, Executive Director of Bladen County’s Economic Development. 

Therefore, Huestess along with County Manager, Greg Martin reached out to Tyler Mulligan with the Institute of Government to find a solution on financing for shell buildings to attract more businesses and industries to Bladen County.  

Around 80% to 90% of the companies interested in establishing a business want to see a building according to the Executive Director. 

Huestess explained the workaround of the unconstitutional ruling, “The way we found to make it legal to do this is the county would be the one actually building the building. I can still do the work I have always done as the Executive Director of Ecomic Development Commission.”

There are two ways the county can then sale the building according to Huestess. A public auction can be held, or the county could sale the building at it’s appraisal value. 

Huestess said Bladen Bloomin’ could purchase the shell buildings from the county at the appraisal value and then find businesses to occupy the buildings. Huestess listed the following advantages Bladen Bloomin has over the county handling the business real estate transactions. 

  • Bladen’s Bloomin can respond to a client faster.
  • The information exchanged can be private.
  • All liability stops with the local non-profit. 

Commissioner Ray Britt said, “When all is said and done, tax payers are going to pay about 60% of construction costs to grow Bladen County.”

Huestess said Britt’s evaluation was correct. Charles Ray Peterson, Chairman of the Commissioners it would basically cost the county the same amount it always has, it is just a different way of getting the job done. 

Huestess told the commissioners he had two projects he would like to start this year with the new plan of financing the projects. 

The county has set aside $288,000 in the past two years to help with economic development, which has not been used. The new service sales tax put into effect is what the commissioners are discussing to use to help pay for the buildings. 

Huestess will be gathering information to bring back tot he commissioners. The commissioners will discuss the issue in more details in another meeting later this month.