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For many years, the presence of Johnston County government and the court system has been a positive economic driver for Downtown Smithfield.  The county and state employees that work within the courthouse, as well as those in various other locations downtown, have a significant financial impact on the downtown businesses.  According to Donovan Rypkema, principal of Place Economics, "A downtown worker will spend between $2,500 and $3,500 a year in the downtown economy."  With 357 county employees downtown on a daily basis, not including state employees and those who are in the field, the annual economic impact is between $900,000 and $1.25 million.
 
According to former County Commissioner Chairman Tony Braswell, as printed in a November 2016 News & Observer article, the county's long-term plans include the consolidation of many county departments.  The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation values the centralization of County government in Downtown Smithfield and understands the demands for more space for both the court system and county government.  We believe that there is potential for the County to grow its footprint in and directly adjacent to Downtown Smithfield in a manner that is beneficial for the County, its taxpayers, the Town of Smithfield, and our downtown businesses, and that that there are multiple viable options worthy of consideration that are fiscally responsible, accommodate the designs presented by Moseley Architects (both the downtown and remote site options), and address the pros and cons in their presentation.
 
The DSDC would welcome the opportunity to work with the County and Town to identify opportunities to satisfy the County's need to plan for long-term growth in order to maintain and possibly increase the number of jobs in Downtown Smithfield.  We understand that it is difficult to balance the needs of everyone in a county that is growing as quickly as ours, and we are glad to offer our assistance and resources to assist in doing so.
 
The Johnston County Board of Commissioners have scheduled a special meeting for the purposes of holding a public hearing on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Meeting Room of the Johnston County Courthouse located at 207 E. Johnston Street, Smithfield, NC 27577.  The purpose of the public hearing is to receive public comment and input on a proposed Public Safety Center Project in Johnston County which includes the construction of a new detention center.  The Board of Commissioners have been provided with information as it relates to constructing a Public Safety Center adjacent to the Johnston County Courthouse versus constructing such a facility on a remote site which has yet to be identified.  The County Commissioners are seeking public input on such a project and encourage citizen attendance and participation at this special meeting and public hearing on September 6, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.  

The public may obtain an information packet on the options for a public safety center at http://www.johnstonnc.com/files/board/InfoPacket_ProposedPublicSafetyCenter.pdf, or in the Johnston County Manager’s Office which is located in the Johnston County Courthouse, 207 E. Johnston Street, Smithfield, North Carolina, Room B-206, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Copies of the information packet may also be mailed to citizens by request by calling (919) 989-5100.
 
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