Pinehurst City Manager Robbie Hood put on his EDC hat and went to the Orange City Council Tuesday morning to encourage people to attend Wednesday’s Orange County Commissioners Court meeting to support economic development.
Hood, who is also the board president of the Orange County Economic Development Corporation said, “We’re in a state of emergency, in my opinion, for economic development,” he said.
Hood said all the incorporated areas need to be involved with the county for economic development.
Commissioners Court meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday and dozens of citizens, including elected leaders and business owners, are expected to attend to protest the position of County Judge Dean Crooks on economic development incentives.
Crooks wrote a six-page statement of his views on economic development last week. The statement came as Chevron-Phillips as announced the county as a finalist for the site of a new $5 billion chemical plant.
The project could bring 3,500 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs.
Crooks said on KOGT’s Morning Show Monday he wants Chevron-Phillips here, but the county should not give the company whatever they want in tax abatements and incentives. He said the temporary construction workers would not want to move to Orange and buy houses here.
Hood told the Orange City Council Crooks’ stand is not looking 5, 10, or 15 years in the future. The proposed plant would bring high-paying jobs to support families here, he said.
“Do you really think for one minute those workers getting $85,000 a year jobs care about what the county is giving in tax abatements?” he asked.
At the end of the meeting, Orange District 1 Councilor Pat Pullen said “You have to have an EDC (economic development corporation). It’s part of life.”
Pullen praised city Economic Development Director Jay Trahan for his work in bringing in new business. The city has a separate Economic Development Corporation than the county’s Economic Development Corporation, though the city gives money to support the county EDC.
The city EDC board met Tuesday morning, but postponed a vote on giving a $55,000 infrastructure grant to Real Southern Food, 1111 Green Avenue. The board did not have enough members attending to vote on the grant. It will be addressed at the March 26 meeting.
The city EDC is supported by a special sales tax approved by voters. The city EDC has been giving grants for infrasture like foundations, parking lots, water and sewer, for businesses.
Mayor Larry Spears Jr. said he appreciates the “comradery” of Hood and Pinehurst in helping to grow businesses.