Three sites sought as ‘port enhancement zones’ in New Hanover


Looking to take advantage of development incentives allowed in legislation adopted last year, New Hanover County is seeking designation of as many as three areas as “port enhancement zones”—a classification intended to spur industrial development within a 25-mile radius of a state port.

With assistance from Wilmington Business Development, the county is requesting approval from the state of three areas as port enhancement zones: 2,316 acres along the U.S. 421 corridor, generally north of its interchange with Interstate 140; 1,450 acres surrounding and including the Port of Wilmington; and 1,989 acres south of Castle Hayne, along the north side of Interstate 140.

Designation would improve New Hanover’s chances at attracting industry to those areas, according to a memo to County Manager Chris Coudriet from Rick Benton of Wilmington Business Development.

Benton said the designation would benefit New Hanover in that the enhanced tax credit incentives “would exceed that normally available” for the county.

“Thus, New Hanover County will be more competitive in recruiting new industry to the region, as well as encouraging the growth and expansion of existing industries,” Benton said in the memo.

Areas can qualify for the designation if they are located within 25 miles of a state port, and considered capable of enhancing port operations. More than 11 percent of households in the area must have annual incomes of $15,000 or less, and the total area of all requested zones must comprise less than five percent of the county.

A resolution included in the board’s consent agenda for its next meeting Monday, Jan. 7, states that each of the areas satisfies those requirements. Once approved, the resolution would then be sent to the North Carolina Department of Commerce for consideration.