Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders wanted to shout it from the rooftop.

Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders wanted to shout it from the rooftop.

“We’re open for business. We’re open for business. We’re open for business,” the mayor emphatically said.

City, state and national leaders joined to turn over ceremonial shovels of dirt to commemorate the start of an $11million sewer treatment plant improvement on Friday in Havelock.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that this is to the military. We’re open for business, and this is to any civilian companies or to anyone thinking about doing business in the Havelock area, we’re open for business,” Sanders said during Friday’s ceremony.

The project, paid for by an $8.5 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and $3 million from the city, calls for a plant renovation and relocation of the city’s treated wastewater pipe from Slocum Creek to the Neuse River.

When finished, the city’s available sewage capacity will increase from 1.9 million gallons per day to 2.25 million gallons per day, with the potential to later increase to 3.5 million gallons per day with additional plant improvements.

The increase clears the way for potential residential and commercial growth.

“We’ve been struggling for years with not enough sewerage and having to turn away from development opportunities,” Havelock Commissioner Danny Walsh said. “Now we can take just about anything that comes along that we like. We’re not looking for problems. We’re looking for expansion and we’ve got the sewer to do it. Sewer is king.”

City officials specifically thanked Cherry Point and Department of Defense leaders, who allowed the new pipe to run through the base to the Neuse River. Going around the base would have added thousands of dollars to the cost of the project.

“Without the help from Cherry Point, we could not have gotten this done,” Walsh said.

Sanders said that at one point the city was down to just 10,000 gallons of available sewage before exceeding the system’s capacity. He had a specific message to defense leaders and said the city was ready to handle more people.

“We want new missions,” he said. “If you want new missions in North Carolina, Cherry Point is the place to put them. There is no place in this country where the military is more welcome than in eastern North Carolina and especially here in Havelock.”