GARNER, N.C. – A company that provides behavioral health services to adults and adolescents plans to open a treatment center in Garner and create 250 jobs, officials said Monday.

Memphis, Tenn.-based Strategic Behavioral Health moved forward with plans for the center only after state lawmakers removed a controversial route through Garner for N.C. Highway 540 from consideration by state transportation engineers.

The company plans to build a 92-bed residential treatment facility for troubled youth ages 6 to 17, President and Chief Executive Jim Shaheen said. The $12 million, 56,000-square-foot facility will employ 250 nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, counselors and support staff, he said.

Strategic Behavioral Health has a similar 72-bed facility for adolescents in Leland.

Patients usually stay at the treatment centers for four to six months, and families often visit to participate in therapy, Shaheen said.

Construction of the Garner treatment center is expected to begin in May in the Greenfield business park off U.S. Highway 70, with the facility scheduled to open by June 2012.

The company’s decision to move forward with the project came after recent legislation passed by the General Assembly that eliminated the so-called “red route” option for an extension of N.C. 540.

The state Department of Transportation said it had no plans to use the red route for the highway, but it needed to study the option to meet Army Corps of Engineers requirements for an environmental permit that would allow construction to begin on the “orange route” south of town.

Garner officials lobbied for the law barring study of the red route, saying the possibility of a highway through town was keeping companies like Strategic Behavioral Health from opening.

“As the red route issue surfaced in the middle of our land search and due diligence, it was the unified effort of the community and its leaders that convinced us to stay and hope that the route would be removed so that we could move forward with this project,” Shaheen said. “We are pleased to be able to build and operate this facility in Garner, as the community leaders have made us feel very welcomed and supported.”

Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams called the mental health treatment center “the type of high-end business that will be a long-term community and state asset.”

Reporter: Stacy Davis
Web Editor: Matthew Burns

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