Earlier this week we published a story about concerns many eastern North Carolina business leaders have about plans to put tolls along I-95. They worried that increasing transportation costs along the highway would make recruiting new businesses to the area harder and possibly drive away those that are already located there.
Of particular concern are the large distribution centers used by retailers like Lowes, QVC and Wal-Mart to receive goods from suppliers and ship them to stores. Distribution centers are some of the largest employers in the area and losing them because of increased trucking costs would be a drag on the area's already dragging economy. (It's fair to note that other business experts say the state should be more worried about making sure I-95 is in good repair than the cost of tolls.)
The N.C. Retail Merchants Association recently sent a letter to General Assembly leaders expressing similar concerns. From that letter:
"We have heard from a company, who does not have a large presence in eastern North Carolina, that their initial estimate is an increase of nearly $500,000 annually should tolls be implemented. Because the retail industry is so competitive, and profit margins so tight, many retailers will be forced to choose between significant increases to their bottom-line that they cannot afford, or cutting back operations and expansion plans."
This seems like it might be an issue to watch in the General Assembly short session this May.