The North Carolina Council of State voted to approve a lease that gives the go-ahead to a public-private partnership seeking to construct a cold storage facility at the Port of Wilmington.
The partnership between the North Carolina State Ports Authority and USA Investco is expected to create a state-of-the-art cold storage facility for near-vessel storage of fruits and vegetables, meat and other agriculture products, both imports and exports. This project is contingent upon the award of state and local incentives. Plans call for a 75,000-square-foot facility, expandable to 300,000-square-feet, at an initial investment of $13 million. The project would create 110 new jobs while supporting the state’s number one industry: agriculture.
“We appreciate the support of the Council of State and the teamwork between the departments of Commerce, Agriculture and Transportation in advancing this important, job-producing project for the State of North Carolina,” said State Transportation Secretary Anthony J. Tata.
A modern cold storage facility at the Port of Wilmington is expected to generate substantial savings to the state’s agriculture industry by reducing logistics costs to and from ports. Once constructed, this facility would enable the state’s farmers to use the state’s ports, as opposed to neighboring facilities in Norfolk, Va., Savannah, Ga. and Charleston, S.C.
“North Carolina exports more than $3 billion worth of agricultural products each year,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Upgrades to the Port at Wilmington will help our farmers and agribusinesses boost that number even higher. The cold storage facility is a vital piece of infrastructure that our producers have needed for a long time, and I’m happy that a public-private partnership will be able to make it a reality.”
“The existence of a modern, industrial cold-chain distribution center located at one of our state’s ports provides a strategic competitive advantage over competing neighboring ports,” said Ports Authority Acting Executive Director Jeff Miles. “We are grateful for the support of the Council of State and collaborating agencies as we seek to make North Carolina’s ports the ports of choice for our state’s agricultural interests.”
The Ports Authority Board of Directors voted to approve the lease in a teleconference meeting last week. The Ports must now solidify the final details of the operating agreement between the Authority and the private partner, and other state and local agencies must consider and vote on incentives necessary for the project.