Havelock has a tremendous economic development opportunity with the development of future Interstate 42. Its American Rescue Plan investments allow them to prepare to take advantage of that chance.
City of Havelock
Funds Received: $3.32 million
The City of Havelock is using its ARP distribution primarily to meet its water and sewer needs. This is not a priority that arose overnight. Rather, its been a long-term goal of the City’s leadership, and using ARP funds towards the Highway 70 sewer outfill makes strategic sense for a number of reasons. It resolves a much-needed infrastructure problem, it allows Havelock to exit a sewer SOC (which is mechanism of the NC Department of Environmental Quality to identify and mandate specific system repairs, fines, and a timeline schedule for repairs), and being a one-time expense, it fits nicely within the recommendations surrounding the one-time ARP dollars.
Perhaps most notably, it will provide a significant economic development boost. This project resides along U.S. 70, one of primary east-west corridors across eastern North Carolina and a major connection from the Triangle to the coast. Between Raleigh and Morehead City, U.S. 70 is undergoing upgrades and will soon become Interstate 42. Havelock is included in that stretch. Local leaders expect that highway upgrade to increase both passenger and freight movement in the area. At the moment, due to the lack of sewer infrastructure, Havelock could be unable to provide adequate services to new or expanding businesses that hope to take advantage of that growing market. The ARP investment will change that. Through the Highway 70 project, Havelock will lay the foundation needed to serve the anticipated growth.
Havelock’s two other main investments — AMI and sewer SCADA projects — represent large upfront costs that will yield long-term dividends. The former introduces smart metering technology, and the latter allows Havelock both electronic controlling of its sewer plant and the ability to collect data, which furthers its ability to target efficient investments in the future. Both provide significant forward-looking benefits, especially as it pertains to the prudent use of resources.
The city’s final three projects are geared towards critical operational needs: emergency management and ongoing pandemic preparedness.
Stakeholder Engagement. Considering both the need and the expected impact, the projects selected by Havelock seem obvious. That perception, however, overlooks the extensive citizen engagement efforts undertaken by Havelock, specifically as it relates to its largest stakeholder group: Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. As noted by city leaders, the world’s largest Marine Corps air station is always a top consideration, outweighing other concerns even as critical as economic development. Through close relationships with leaders at the base, the city is able to both meet its obligations to the base and proceed with its forward-looking strategic goals. For Havelock, and because of its outstanding outreach efforts, those aims can go hand in hand.
Make Use of Existing Work. The main projects being funding by ARP dollars in Havelock are not new, and in at least one case, the city was able to take advantage of work already underway. That was with the AMI project. Though upfront costs pre-ARP were prohibitive to Havelock, the need still existed. To understand the benefits, the city had begun a pilot program to evaluate both expected impacts and vendor quality. Once ARP money became available, and the review work essentially done, Havelock was able to move forward on that critical project.
Patience, Prudence. Following guidance from organizations like the NC League, the UNC School of Government, the Local Government Commission and others, Havelock was quick to prepare to spend ARP dollars, and then prudent in making final decisions. The projects ultimately selected met priorities that far preceded the passage of ARP in March 2021. Waiting for final Treasury guidance and additional support from the state budget, Havelock passed its first project ordinance in November 2021 and its next project ordinance in January 2022.