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New sewer line could unbottle commercial growth in Canton

The commercial corridor of the Canton exit off Interstate 40 has been in a vice grip for several years due to a maxed out sewer line.


Now, after about three years of work, a sewer upgrade along Champion Drive in Canton has been completed. The old sewer line was too small and at maximum capacity, so new businesses wanting to tap the sewer line were out of luck — a source of consternation to Canton leaders for several years.

The existing line has now been replaced with a wider diameter pipe, increasing capacity and paving the way to accommodate commercial growth along the corridor.

The project was initially estimated at $1.68 million, but it is slated to come in slightly under budget.

A major funder for the new sewer line was the Rural Center, which granted the town more than  $800,000 — half of the construction cost.

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The N.C. Rural Center has given out millions of dollars for water and sewer line projects to spur economic development in small towns and rural communities around the state for years. But state leaders pulled the plug on the Rural Center this summer after it was criticized as a slush fund and accused of mismanagement and favoritism.

When the state suddenly froze funding to the Rural Center, Canton was still owed an outstanding balance on its grant. Town leaders initially feared they may not see the rest of the money they were promised.

However, the state announced that it would honor the grants already awarded by the Rural Center.

“It was a little bit of a concern when it first transpired,” Assistant Town Manager Jason Burrell said. But, “Everything’s been kind of straightened out.”

As a condition of the grant, the sewer upgrade is supposed to lead to the creation at least 83 jobs.

The jobs would come from three businesses — 10 at the MedWest Urgent & Emergent Care, 20 at Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits and 53 at Consolidated Metco, or ConMet. In fact, it was just recently revealed that the manufacturing plant, ConMet, would add 140 jobs in all at its Canton plant.

As for new businesses, there is nothing concrete or substantial yet, though companies have fished around Canton looking for a possible place to open.

The N.C. Golden Leaf Fund contributed $100,000 to the sewer line, the county gave another $40,000, and the town covered the rest.

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