HOLLY RIDGE – The Town of Holly Ridge is seeing more than just residential growth.
Just a year after the first tenant of the new Camp Davis Industrial Park broke ground on the site of its new facility, two more businesses have projects now underway and more are expected to follow.
"There are 11 lots in the first phase of the industrial park and 10 are already spoken for," said Jacksonville Onslow Economic Development Executive Director Mark Sutherland.
Crete Solutions LLC, a concrete producer based in Wilmington, is the industrial park’s latest addition and held a groundbreaking ceremony July 24 for its fourth plant in the Wilmington area.
"They have plants in New Hanover and Brunswick counties and the Holly Ridge plant will give them better reach due to the growth and construction in the Holly Ridge, Surf City areas," Sutherland said.
Mayor Jeff Wenzel isn’t surprised.
He has seen the growth first-hand but noted a recent newspaper article on the population boom among North Carolina’s small towns. According to the census data, Holly Ridge was second among the fastest growing towns with under 25,000 residents from 2010-2019, with a population estimate as of 2019 being 2,827.
That’s an increase of 121% but Wenzel said the town still has its small-town feel and is close to the beach and military bases.
But, currently the town is mainly a residential one and Wenzel said they hope the success of the industrial park will help the town diversify, bringing in jobs that are not only good for the county’s economy but help the town grow strategically.
Wenzel said town residents now head either direction down U.S. 17 to work in Jacksonville or Wilmington or do most of their shopping in outlying areas.
The town wants its residents to be able to live, work and stay in the town for shopping and other activities.
"A lot of residents leave Holly Ridge during the day to go to work," Wenzel said. "We want strategic growth and to create jobs so people are working and living in Holly Ridge; so they are coming to Holly Ridge and staying in Holly Ridge."
Wenzel said the hope is that strategic plan will also lead to other commercial growth like a grocery store or restaurants to serve their residents.
At Camp Davis Industrial Park, anchor tenant Onslow Bay Boatworks, which broke ground on its new 50,000 square foot facility in August 2019, is expected celebrate the completion of the project with a ribbon cutting within the next month, Sutherland said.
And last week, action by the Onslow County Board of Commissioners cleared the way for Atlantic Seafood to locate at the industrial park, Sutherland said.
Sutherland said Onslow County was in competition with other counties to bring Atlantic Seafood to Camp Davis and incentive packages approved by Onslow County and the town helped secure a $5.1 million investment in property taxes as well as 48 jobs with an average annual salary of $70,000. Sutherland said they are well-paying jobs at nearly double the county’s average salary of $29,000.
"It’s a huge win for the county and a home run economic development land," Sutherland said.
Sutherland said the incentives are performance agreements and not grants, which requires that that Atlantic Seafood meet certain conditions to benefit from any tax incentive.
The Onslow County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement that requires that the current tax base increase by an estimated $5.1 million, that Atlantic Seafood provide 48 jobs and that they have their planned 62,500 square foot refrigerated facility in operation by Dec. 31, 2021.
If conditions are met, the county will provide up to $25,000 a year incentive for 5 years.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.