A federal grant has been received that will see water infrastructure expanded along Interstate 40 in northern Sampson County, which county officials said will serve Enviva Pellets and aid future development.
Jay Williams, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, announced last week that North Carolina will receive two Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants totaling just over $2 million for two separate projects, one to improve water infrastructure in Sampson.
That EDA grant for Sampson is specifically for $684,750 to construct a water infrastructure system to support the expansion plans of “major bio-tech manufacturing company” Enviva. John Swope, executive director of the Sampson County Economic Development Commission, said it will go beyond that.
“That grant is going to outfit the county with a third well,” Swope said of the county’s current water production capabilities.
Two county wells on N.C. 403 (Faison Highway) and Old Warsaw Road are currently in operation. Another well that would help build the system and enhance the supply of water to the Enviva site and surrounding area has been planned for the I-40/Faison interchange (Exit 355) for quite some time. The grant will help pay for it.
“That would be a great assistance in helping develop that intersection for not only Enviva but for other commercial and other development,” Swope said.
Enviva, a major producer and exporter of wood pellets for energy generation, will create approximately 103 jobs and attract $167 million in private investment through its Enviva Pellets Sampson LLC project, which has seen a 500,000-metric ton wood pellet manufacturing facility constructed on a 200-acre site off that I-40 interchange.
Enviva manufactures pellets from low-grade byproducts of the traditional forest products industry and exports them to utilities globally that are switching from coal to pellets to reduce their carbon footprint. An elevated water storage tank at I-40 and N.C. 403, to provide fire protection for the company as well as accommodate future development, is already up and running.
“That tank is up and serving Enviva,” Swope noted.
County officials approved a performance-based incentives package to the company back in 2013.
In September 2015, county commissioners approved a bid for construction of a water line from Burch Road to the water tank site on I-40, approximately 6,200 feet of 12-inch water main. The cost was $1.36 million. A bid for the tank had been previous approved at a cost of $325,645. The well will help build that system from the spot where it ends, near Enviva.
“Ensuring that our nation’s communities have the vital capacity, infrastructure and tools needed to support economic growth is a top priority for the Economic Development Administration,” Williams said in a prepared statement last week. “(These) investments will help strengthen North Carolina’s economy by allowing a local manufacturer to expand, entrepreneurial companies to grow, and providing workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
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