Kidwell announces agreement between Aurora, Nutrien

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

AURORA — Rep. Keith Kidwell announced Monday Nutrien has agreed to donate 26 acres of corporate-owned land and $100,000 in funding to the town of Aurora.

The land being donated is near the town’s new industrial park, located at the southern end of Aurora. A portion of that property will be earmarked for the development of buildings and related facilities to be used by businesses and contractors that already have offices on other Nutrien sites in Beaufort County and more widely across North Carolina.

“We will speak with out contractor businesses… and inform them that moving to the Aurora Industrial Park will not harm their business relationship with Nutrien… we are excited about future growth opportunities,” said Mike Dirham, Vice President of Operations, who confirmed the agreement with Kidwell in late November and was a member of the group that worked on the plan.

Also part of the goal for that property is the building of affordable housing for Nutrien employees and others who want to move to Aurora but have limited funding options.  Company policy includes the statement that Nutrien is “proud of our neighbors and invest in communities,” which Dirham expanded on in the letter that confirmed this plan, noting that the firm’s “core values focus on safety, environmental stewardship, diversity, inclusion and community investment… we are excited about getting things moving in Aurora.”

The financial part of this agreement will be targeted toward training, specifically by funding for Aurora’s branch of Beaufort County Community College. The allocation and spending of that money will be targeted toward the part of the college branch’s curriculum that includes training for positions that relate to jobs available at Nutrien and other industrial businesses, as well as related course work. Kidwell specified that decisions about purchases made with that money will be supervised, and made by members of the BCC Aurora staff without input from Nutrien leadership.

“There has been a mass exodus over the years, with fewer and fewer services and housing opportunities in Aurora, especially for people of modest means,” Kidwell said during Monday evening’s town hall meeting. “Rebirth there means rebirth in North Carolina.”

Ray McKeithan, Nutrien’s public relations officer, said several details still need to be ironed out regarding the recent agreement, but the company is “confident that all the questions involved will be answered in a manner that moves this project forward.”