A proposed Havelock industrial park now has the backing of Duke Energy, which announced Tuesday that it has added the project to its Site Readiness Program.
Havelock officials said that the move paves the way for further development of a 155-acre tract just west of the city limits.
“Out of the dream phase and into some reality,” Havelock Mayor Will Lewis said. “In this short term, it will mean some money that will enable us to do some due diligence and move the park forward, but in the long term what it does is it puts in the entire Duke Energy network, which is very large, so when we start looking down the road at different things that we will be doing with the park, we’ll have Duke Energy’s assistance in getting some of those things done or putting us in front of the right people to get the right questions answered.
“It gives our project some notoriety across the state also and across our region so that people know that we have this project. It helps us talk to some peers who are doing some of the exact same type projects. Those are the kinds of long-term benefits we’ll get from this program.”
Havelock officials have been looking to create a new industrial park ever since the city’s current business park off Fontana Boulevard became filled. The proposed park would be located on land across the highway from Carolina Pines and Stately Pines near the location of a once-proposed commercial and residential community that fell through when the economy turned sour.
Officials say the location, which will have highway and railroad access, will serve Cherry Point, Fleet Readiness Center East and the port at Morehead City.
“We are preparing the Havelock Business Park for potential suppliers who will repair military aircraft,” said Timothy Downs, Craven County economic development director. “FRC East is already performing work on F-35B aircraft and MCAS Cherry Point will eventually have a squadron of F-35B aircraft that will require servicing. We’ll be ready.”
Duke Energy has hired the consulting firm of McCallum Sweeney to help city and county planners conduct a site study and make recommendations to local leaders.
“We are pleased to have Craven County in the program,” Stuart Heishman, Duke Energy’s vice president of economic development, said in a statement.
He pointed out that since Duke Energy started the program in 2006, 12 major projects have been produced, leading to the creation of 2,100 jobs and $2.9 billion in capital investment out of 114 evaluated sites.
Duke Energy will also market the project nationally, according to a release.
Lewis credited the hard work of Downs and Roger Sauls, the city’s economic development consultant with Davenport Lawrence.
“Roger, who used to be with CP&L, is the one who brought this project to our attention and said you need to be looking at this,” Lewis said.
Havelock Commissioner Danny Walsh said private property owners, including the Jackson family and Weyerhaeuser, as well as the city, county and Havelock Regional Development Corporation have come together for the project.
“If all these things come together in the right place at the right time and everybody’s working together, this could be a very large industrial park for Cherry Point and for the port and for the people of Havelock,” Walsh said.
Besides the Havelock project, Duke Energy also selected properties in Robeson, Beaufort, Richmond and Union counties for potential development.