COMtech lobbies RCC for ‘key’ land

First Posted: 3/11/2014

LUMBERTON — The board of trustees for the Robeson Community College was asked Monday to sell or trade seven acres of prime real estate it owns at the entrance of COMtech Park to provide for COMtech’s plans to establish a Business Support Center.

Ryan Nance, executive director at COMtech, told board members that the seven acres the college owns near the entrance to the park just off N.C. 711 is the “key” to COMtech’s plans to provide 15,000 square feet of “high quality commercial space” that would be located adjacent to current RCC and The University of North Carolina at Pembroke facilities offering assistance to entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.

Nance said that he has been in contact with several private investors and at least one is ready to move forward with helping get the $2 million facility off the ground. The facility would provide for six to 10 new or expanding businesses.

“This is important economic development for the county,” Nance said. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Nance said that the “time is right” to move forward with the establishment of a Business Support Center, a project that has been on the drawing board at COMtech for years.

“These are real jobs and private capital, not government money, being injected into the county,” Nance said. “These are jobs that can be created now for our graduates.”

Nance said that RCC could lease part of the Business Support Center for a “job creation portal.” Here the college could provide aid to entrepreneurs and students seeking assistance in such areas as job placement, resume writing and other business-related skills, he said.

Nance said that he has already received verbal commitments from a number of businesses to locate in the facility.

“These are all new or expanding businesses that are ready to go,” Nance said.

Nance said, however, that the center needs the seven acres owned by RCC to become a reality.

“The location is the key,” he said. “That property has highway frontage on N.C. 711 and all of the necessary infrastructure is already in place. It’s prime real estate.”

Nance said other land that could serve as an ideal location for the center is on the opposite side of N.C. 711, but it is privately owned.

Nance told trustees that if they don’t want to sell the land to the county there are “plenty of areas within the park” that can be swapped for the seven acres.

“We can offer another place in the park for education and training,” Nance said. “…There is plenty of space for what the college wants to do.”

But Sammy Cox, a longtime RCC trustee, said he isn’t so sure the college should sell or swap the land it currently owns at the park.

“I hate to give up land that we may need in the future,” he said.

George Regan, the board’s chairman, told trustees to consider COMtech’s proposal and bring back their ideas to the board at its next monthly meeting in April.

“I’m not sure we want to release that property, either by selling or trading it,” Regan said. “There’s a lot that needs to be considered. If we let it go, it will be gone forever for our future development.”

In other business, the trustees:

— Approved a revised class attendance and tardy policy.

— Recognized June Edwards, a culinary arts student, for receiving a North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Award.

— Approved a human resource development class to be held at the Lumberton Correctional Institute.

— Recognized the retirements of Wayne Coates as interim director of the college’s Law Enforcement Training Program, and Beth Sigmon, a curriculum psychology instructor.