By Justin Smith, The News Reporter
A Helena Chemical facility under construction west of Whiteville will benefit from a grant that will also make the nearby Southeastern Regional Industrial Park more marketable, the county’s economic developer announced Tuesday.
A $20,000 grant from the Duke Energy Carolinas Investment Fund will help extend a water main along the eastern edge of the industrial park and will serve a new Helena Chemical facility under construction at the intersection of Georgia Pacific and Midway roads, said Columbus County Economic Development Director Gary Lanier.
Helena Chemical decided to construct the new facility after its building on West Virgil Street outside Whiteville flooded during Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, according to Jim Martin, the company’s division manager. The Whiteville location provides crop protection chemicals, seeds and fertilizer for farmers in Columbus, Bladen and Robeson counties. The new facility will include a 12,000 square-foot warehouse, 2,000 square-foot office and a liquid fertilizer operation. Helena has seven local employees and hopes to add more as business expands, Martin said.
Duke Energy awarded the grant to the Columbus Jobs Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports economic development initiatives. The funds will be used for engineering design and preliminary work. Columbus County commissioners voted in December to spend up to $75,500 in already budgeted economic development funds for design costs associated with the water line extension. Lanier said fewer county tax dollars will be required thanks to the grant.
“This will be a true win-win for the Columbus Jobs Foundation, Columbus County, and our partners at Duke Energy,” Lanier said. “Duke Energy is one of the best economic development partners we have, willing to do everything in their power to make a project happen.”
Lanier added that Duke Energy has been involved for more than 25 years with the 160-acre Southeast Regional Park.
“It is great to have a wonderful partner like Columbus County that aggressively plans and recruits business to create new jobs and investment for the county,” said Donna Phillips, economic development manager for Duke Energy. “We are pleased to be a part of the community’s growth and prosperity.”