LILLINGTON – A $10 million workforce development center is coming to Dunn after Harnett County commissioners approved earlier this week a $5 million match of funding from the state of North Carolina.

The Magnolia Avenue School building – constructed in 1918 – will be renovated and Central Carolina Community College will occupy it. Plans call for the offering of  “customized workforce development training” for current and new partners. It also will include a business incubator.

Called the Advanced Technology & Biotech Training Center, it is to focus on biotech, agtech, artificial intelligence and software programming, according to the I-95/I-40 Crossroads of America Economic Development Alliance.

“We are excited about the plans to renovate the Magnolia Avenue School building,” said Brent Trout, Harnett County manager. “Establishing a workforce development center in Harnett County will better serve our citizens and industry partners. We will now have the resources to provide specialized training to address the needs of our industry partners, which will ultimately bring more jobs to the County.”

The center comes after Dunn and the Town of Four Oaks formed the I-95/I-40 Crossroads of America Economic Development Alliance (Alliance) in 2021, the goal being to “encourage and promote economic development, including job creation along the I-95 corridor.,” the Commissioners said.

The Alliance also plans an Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. It’s location will be close to Interstate 95 and near the Four Oaks Business Park.  “Johnston Community College has already agreed to provide the staff and curriculum needed to make this project a success,” according to the Alliance’s website.

Also this week internet service provider CloudWyze, which is based in Wilmington, said it would launch a fiber optic network in Dunn this summer.

Internet provider preps for fiber network launch in Dunn

The General Assembly had approved funding for the Dunn project if a local match was found. The Alliance submitted a funding request to the Commissioners in April.

“Workforce training is the key to obtaining the quality of jobs we seek for the I-95 corridor. With these matching funds, the leadership of Harnett County makes a bold statement about their commitment for quality growth within the area. It takes all parties working together to accomplish great progress and with this approval the Harnett County Commissioners show their partnership as we strive together to create above average work opportunities for the future,” said Harold Keen, Chairman of the I-95/ I-40 Alliance, in a statement.

The county will own the property. The Alliance and the county will lease it for $1 a year plus utility costs, according to the announcement.