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Officials: Southern Nash poised for growth

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Southern Nash County’s towns are on the cusp of major development, according to local officials.

“The sky’s the limit,” said Bailey Mayor Thomas Richards. “Wilson and Raleigh are coming our way.”

Richards said the town needs outside help to solve its sewer system troubles so the 2003 state-issued sewer moratorium can be lifted.

Bailey has strong community advocates, said Susan Phelps, the county’s retail economic developer. She helps the county and its municipalities recruit businesses.

Phelps is well-heeled with experience in her field. A graduate of N.C. State University, she served as a special events coordinator for the city of Rocky Mount and tourism marketing manager for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I see a lot of enthusiasm in Bailey,” Phelps said.

Phelps said she also sees a lot of interest from commercial brokers in Spring Hope. She’s been on site tours with developers looking at properties like the previous location of Dollar General in the endcap storefront of Spring Hope Commons, the shopping center on Nash Street with a Subway and anchored by Food Lion.

Phelps said national chains are looking at southern Nash County.

“Additional residential development will help with recruitment,” Phelps said.

A 10-house subdivision is planned for just outside Bailey, Richards said.

As Middlesex and the other towns grow into bedroom communities for Raleigh, new residents will want more amenities and conveniences, Phelps said.

“Retail development takes a longer course,” Phelps said. “Several business prospects are underway.”

One way Phelps assists town officials is by introducing them to state-level resources.

Bruce Naegelen is a community economic development planner for the N.C. Commerce Department at the Rural Planning Center in Clayton. He is set to present information at Monday’s monthly meeting of the Bailey Town Board of Commissioners.

The rural planning program works with small municipalities in rural areas to provide strategic planning and implementation services, technical support and training to help communities prepare for and respond to potential economic growth opportunities in ways that improve the quality of life and maintain rural character while building capacity, according to information provided by the agency.

Phelps said she tells town officials that she is ready to help.

“My office is here is a resource,” Phelps said. “Oftentimes in real estate, it’s about networking. The more we know about what a town needs or has, the better we can market it.”