By Erin Smith
The downtown area of Elizabethtown has been undergoing some changes for several years. One project that is finally being completed in the downtown is the Small Business Incubator that is located in the former post office building located at 207 East Broad Street.
Bladen County Economic Development Director Chuck Heustess said, ”We hope to be moving people in within the next week and a half.”
One confirmed tenant at the incubator will be Bladen Community College’s Small Business Center, according to Heustess.
The project experienced more than two years of setbacks. Heustess said the project experienced delays due to asbestos removal, Hurricane Matthew, the remodeling of the building’s rear entrance to make it compliant with the American’s with Disabilities Act and the project’s original architect, Chris Adams, closed his firm. With the closure of Adams’ architecture firm, the work on the facility was stopped until a new architect could be hired.
“We’ve run into so much stuff,” said Heustess of the delays.
The building is finally ready for its new tenants. In addition to an entryway that affords its tenants a place to display their literature, it features eight spaces that are a combination of suites and office space. There is a shared break room and two shared conference rooms also included. A mail room features storage lockers for each office. Heustess said the building also offers wifi service to the tenants.
The exterior has undergone a makeover as well. The brick has been painted, new windows have been added, and new shrubbery has been added to the front as well as a bench.
Heustess said the reason Bladen’s Blooming’ Agri-Industrial undertook the project was simple.
“We had inquiries in the past about small business space,” said Heustess.
He said the project costs reached $600,000. A grant was received from the USDA Rural Development that covered $200,000 of those costs.
“It ended up costing us more than we anticipated because of some of the issues we encountered,” said Heustess.
A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for February. The project is funded by the USDA Rural Development, Four County Electric Membership Corporation, Bladen County Committee of 100, Star Telephone Communications, Duke Energy, and Bladen’s Bloomin’ Agri-Industrial.
If you are interested in leasing space in the incubator, contact the Bladen County Economic Development Office at 910-645-2292.