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$287M development to create 3,100 jobs

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SMITHFIELD — The Johnston County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 4 approved tax incentives for Eastfield, a $287.5 million mixed-use 353 acre development that is projected to create 3,100 jobs. The site is located off U.S. 70 and U.S. 70 Alternate in the Selma extraterritorial jurisdiction.

Eastfield will be constructed in two phases. The first phase is 1 million square feet of warehouse and flex-space for industrial and office tenants at the property. The $40 million initial phase is scheduled to be completed by 2023 and the remainder of the development will be finished by 2031.

Once completed, Eastfield will be a master-planned, mixed-use development consisting of retail, medical and professional office space along with hospitality, entertainment, senior living and residential facilities.

AdVenture Development President Kevin Dougherty said Eastfield would be similar to another AdVenture development, McCandless Crossing, near Pittsburgh.

McCandless has been very good for the Pittsburgh-area economy, creating more than 1,600 jobs with sales numbers exceeding $200 million, said Dougherty.

The Eastfield project will boost Johnston County’s annual gross domestic product by $169 million, according to an economic impact analysis by Sanford Holshouser Economic Development Consulting.

“I’ve been to Pittsburgh, seen McCandless and was very impressed,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Ted Godwin. “We’ve seen growth on the western end of Johnston County and I’m excited to see this development along I-95.”

Commissioners approved a local incentives agreement in support of the industrial phase of the Eastfield development. The property is within one of Johnston County’s four Opportunity Zones, a federal designation intended to draw private investment and job creation into low-wealth communities. The program was part of the tax reform package passed by Congress in December 2017.

“ The terms of the incentive agreement is different from those in past, because it is a mixed-use development,” said County Attorney Jennifer Slussser. “There are several commitments Eastfield has made to earn the economic development incentive. This agreement require all commitments met before the county provides incentive grants.”

“We’re really excited to be here,” said Dougherty. “We hope we can develop a great project, one of which both the town of Selma and Johnston County will be proud.”

The Eastfield project has been in development since 2005. AdVenture Development has been acquiring area real estate through the years needed to begin construction.

Former North Carolina Commerce Secretary John Skvarla was present at the meeting and praised the development.

“I want to offer my congratulations for negotiating such a remarkable agreement,” said Skvarla. “There are 99 other counties in this state drooling right now. This is as good as it gets.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for that area,” said Commissioner Patrick Harris. “There are a lot of people that leave Johnston County to work. I’m committed to creating developments that allow residents to stay at home.”

“Thanks to everyone who worked on this,” said Commissioner Butch Lawter.

“It’s a great day to be in Johnston County,” said County Economic Development Director Chris Johnson.

Selma Town Manager Elton Daniels said there would be several items related to the Eastfield development on the Selma Town Council’s agenda this Tuesday. The meeting was scheduled to take place after this week’s edition of the Johnstonian News went to press.