Holly Ridge was a very small town before World War II, nestled between Hampstead and Sneads Ferry and about halfway between Wilmington and Jacksonville.
Business is Booming in Holly Ridge!
By: Pat Fontana
When the military established Camp Davis in the heart of Holly Ridge, the population swelled to over 110,000. The military has since left the camp and the area is now home to a booming industrial park that is attracting new businesses and new opportunities.
The US Army built Camp Davis in 1940, as an anti-aircraft artillery training facility. The base included two runways and over 3,000 buildings on more than 45,000 acres of land. In addition to the male soldiers who trained there, the Women Airforce Service Pilots also served there beginning in the summer of 1943. The camp was dismantled in 1948 but the park remains an important part of Onslow County and Holly Ridge history. Now, it’s also an integral part of the future.
Mark Sutherland, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Onslow Economic Development, says the Camp Davis Industrial Park was developed by Tom Rollins and his family, who own Gulfstream Steel and who acquired the property in 2004. Sutherland explains that Rollins “methodically went about the development of Phase One (the first 60 acres or so) with NO grant funding. Phase One lots became sellable in the fall of 2019 and they were largely sold out within a year of that.”
Businesses who have moved to the industrial park to date include Onslow Bay Boatworks, Crete Solutions, and Atlantic Seafood. Highland Paving and Blue Water Candy will be moving in soon as well. Most of the companies establishing their presence in Phase One of the Camp Davis development are light industrial businesses.
Sutherland adds that “Phase Two (remaining 60 or so acres) is designed and permitted, but not yet developed. The Town of Holly Ridge has executed an agreement to purchase Phase Two from the Rollins family. If that comes to pass, the Town will be in a position to develop those remaining eight lots with the help of grant funding from a variety of state entities.”
The Wilmington Star News recently reported that a $150,000 Rural Infrastructure Authority grant was approved in April, which will help with the mission of the project. The request was approved under the state’s Rural Demolition grant program and the funds will be used for the demolition and removal of asphalt taxiways and runways for the Phase II section of the industrial park. Another $45,000 in grant funding will be put toward development. The authority has provided a total of $650,000 in assistance for the industrial park.
Jeff Wenzel, Mayor of the Town of Holly Ridge says, “The industrial park is Holly Ridge’s strategic long-term growth strategy. By bringing good jobs to Holly Ridge, we hope to reverse the trend of people living in Holly Ridge and commuting to other places to work. With more industry in Holly Ridge, new small businesses will organically be opened to support the day-to-day needs of the workforce.”
The Holly Ridge Industrial Park at Camp Davis is strategically located for business growth in the area. The camp is just 20 miles from I-40, 35 miles from the Port of Wilmington, and 20 miles from Jacksonville. It’s also just five miles from the Topsail Island beaches, an attraction for residents and tourists alike who are ready to do business in the growing town of Holly Ridge.