The Smithfield Town Council last week formalized its support for a CSX cargo-container hub in Johnston County.
The council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the intermodal terminal.
In addition to supporting the hub, the resolution also “welcomes into the Town of Smithfield and offers assistance to any business or resident that may be affected by this project.”
Railroad giant CSX proposed a hub two months ago on land between Selma and Micro, but public enthusiasm quickly turned to a public “no thanks” when some landowners signaled a fight to keep their lands.
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Since then, a contingent led by an organized business community has asked CSX not to turn its back on Johnston County. The rail company, meanwhile, has said little since late January, when county commissioners and the governor said the land between Selma and Micro was a no-go.
In March, county commissioners and three chambers of commerce in Johnston County threw their support behind the CSX hub.
The Smithfield council did not discuss the resolution and placed the item on the agenda only at the beginning of its meeting. Each council member and the mayor signed the resolution without comment.
The resolution says the project represents a substantial opportunity for long-term growth for Johnston County’s economy. County businesses, the resolution adds, would benefit from through reduced shipping costs and access to global markets.
The hub would benefit Smithfield’s citizens, the resolution says, by providing “new, well-paying jobs and the possibility of secondary industries locating to the surrounding area, creating the potential for more jobs.”
Also, the hub has the potential to position the county and state as a regional hub for logistics and industrial centers, representing “a major economic catalyst for the state.”
The town will support and offer assistance to the county’s Board of Commissioners and others involved in the project in order to bring the terminal to Johnston County, the resolution says.
With hundreds acres of railroad-accessible land needed for a hub, eminent domain would likely come into play in any deal for CSX. That likelihood has alienated some property owners.
Abbie Bennett: 919-553-7234, Ext. 101; @AbbieRBennett