Local News

Cumberland County Leaders Want To Bring More Businesses To Area

Posted January 29, 2001

— Economic development is a top priority for many communities, but it takes money to recruit new businesses and jobs. In Cumberland County, some leaders wonder if their investment is paying off.

TheFayetteville Area Economic Development Corporationbrought members of thestate Department of Commerceto Cumberland County Tuesday for talks and tours. The non-profit group wants to get the word out on what industrial sites and buildings are available.

Some county commissioners want more out of the group itself.

"Obviously, we are not happy with our success in expanding current businesses and recruiting new businesses in the last two years," says county commissioner John Henley. "I think the effort is there, but perhaps we need to be more focused and effective in our recruiting process."

In the last two years, the organization has recruited just three new companies, adding about 160 jobs. With over half the group's $500,000 budget coming from the county, Henley wants better planning and better results.

"There's always room for improvement," he says.

Harry Whalen, the corporation's president, says it has been a difficult task because the county has not had a lot to offer. The current industrial park is about full.

"It's hard to sell time shares at the beach if you don't have a condo to put people in," he says.

Whalen is optimistic though. A new industrial park will open by the end of the year off Cedar Creek Road near I-95 and stretches over 485 acres.

As for the development corporation, the first order of business is to put a county commissioner on its board of directors to ensure better accountability.

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