5/9/2018 – Local investors sought for Caldwell County residential projects

Posted on: May 9th, 2018 by admin


May 9, 2018


By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Local investors are being sought for potential multi-family housing projects that one local official calls Caldwell County’s “number one economic development issue.”


The Caldwell County Economic Development Commission is maintaining a confidential list of investors, executive director Deborah Murray told the group’s board of directors Tuesday.


“We would like to add to that list,” she said. “Where do we find that group of people?”


The need for new housing, especially multi-family developments, has come up increasingly as the number of jobs has grown. Murray has said that some local employers have reported losing some recruits for top jobs because of the lack of housing options locally.


The state’s most recent unemployment report found that the number of Caldwell County residents with jobs has hit a post-recession high of 35,355, and it would be even higher if there were more places here for people to live, Murray said.


Annual surveys of major local employers by the EDC have found that an increasing number of new hires live outside Caldwell County: 30 percent in 2015, 34 percent in 2016, and 40 percent in 2017.


The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey found in 2014 that about 6,600 people commuted from outside Caldwell to jobs here, and in the most recent data available show that grew to 9,700.


“We have the higher-paying jobs, but those people don’t live here so we don’t get to count them as Caldwell County statistics,” Murray said. “We are building the jobs. Our companies are growing.”


Murray also floated the idea of whether local governments should offer tax grants for large multi-family developments, which would allow developers to pay less than full property taxes for the first few years after the development is completed. That would offer investors and lenders assurance that they could more quickly recoup their investment.


A similar incentive already is available for large industrial projects.


Jeff Branch, who also is a member of the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners, said the idea makes sense to him.


“Once people move in there, they’re going to live there for years and years,” he said.


Several members of the board of directors also discussed problems with tight lending by banks since the recession and the cost of certain development rules, but Murray said that some of those problems are beyond local officials’ reach.


“We need to do something about the things that are in our control,” she said. “That (a tax grant) could be the thing to bring a Charlotte (multi-family) developer here.”


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