The August announcement of Cygnus Technologies Inc. moving to the Leland area from Southport and bringing its 50 employees is a big move not only for the company, but for the town and its economic growth, said Gary Vidmar, Lelands’s economic and community development director.
Incoming projects like Cygnus Technologies’ new location is one of many changes in the works that will impact the area’s economic development landscape and increase the town’s tax base, Vidmar said.
Cygnus, which is part of Maravai LifeSciences (Nasdaq: MRVI), is leasing a new $10 million, 45,000-square-foot facility at Waterford Commercial Park. The two-story office building will house existing employees with the potential to expand to 150 employees in the next five years.
“They thought this was an ideal location for them. Even though they probably looked at other sites throughout the greater Wilmington area, they chose Leland,” Vidmar said.
Growth for the Waterford community also includes a new Tru by Hilton hotel and two new office buildings, Vidmar said, adding that the office space is something that “we haven’t seen built in Leland in many years.”
“Because of the continued growth of the residential, and now the retail and restaurants, now we’re going to be hopefully seeing offices with employees that can take advantage of the residential component, the retail and restaurants, in walkable communities like Brunswick Forest and Waterford that are very convenient to the employees,” Vidmar said.
Additional projects, although still in the planning stages, are adding more attractive options to the community for residents, including 726 Brewery in the town’s Gateway District and Brunswick Beer & Cider Company, which is going into Brunswick Forest.
“The retailers, although some are struggling, nobody has completely curtailed their plans. So everything that has been in the pipeline before COVID may be delayed but is still in the planning stages,” Vidmar said. “We have been seeing more retail, restaurants and commercial businesses coming here over the past few years, and that has continued despite COVID. And people are moving here at an even greater pace than ever.”
On the industrial side, officials have seen steady interest in the 600- acre Leland Innovation Park, Vidmar said. Much of the land within the industrial park was annexed last year by the town.
“Right now, the Leland Innovation Park is the only significantly sized piece of land that the town has that is focused on industry,” he said. “And in order to attract younger families we need to begin attracting companies with higher-paying jobs in addition to the service industry and retail jobs that are available.”
The industrial park includes current employers such as Bradford Products, Feller Power Cords and Manufacturing Methods. The property continues to be a marketing piece for developers.
“As a result of that annexation, there’s a stronger interest from the town to work with the property owner and actively market that land to make it more attractive to businesses to locate there more so than before,” Vidmar said. In the coming months, the town’s economic development committee will begin working to align its economic development plan with the town’s overall strategic plan, which was approved by council in March, Vidmar said. Growth in the industrial segment will become a piece of the plan.
“We want to make sure the two are aligned,” Vidmar said. “We don’t want to be solely a retirement town. We want to attract a mixed-age group, and the only way to do that is to be able to offer local jobs to people that want to live and work in the same community.”
Rendering c/o Environments Unlimited Inc.