Representatives with UNC Pembroke joined Pembroke town officials at a recent groundbreaking ceremony, marking the beginning of major upgrades to the town's wastewater treatment plant.
"This is a historic occasion for the town of Pembroke," said Mayor Greg Cummings. "These improvements will help meet our town's current and future needs. It's all about economic growth.
"It is very critical that we meet the wastewater needs of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, which serves well over 7,600 students; four public schools within an eight-mile radius which serves 5,000 students and the Lumbee tribal housing units."
The improvements are especially vital to the continued growth of UNCP, which has experienced record enrollment in recent years. In 2022, the university celebrated the opening of the $38 million James A. Thomas Hall. Plans are underway to build a $91 million Allied Health and Sciences Building and, in addition to a new student housing complex, allowing the university to expand its transformative role in one of the most economically depressed regions of the state.
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings said the groundbreaking is a significant milestone that signifies the town's and university's growth.
“The proactive leadership exhibited by the town's leadership speaks volumes about their dedication to the progress and prosperity of our shared future,” Cummings said. “This initiative is not only an investment in infrastructure but also an investment in the enduring partnership that drives our success forward.”
The $11.4 million project is funded by the Economic Development Administration, the American Rescue Plan Act and the Town of Pembroke. The project is expected to take approximately 15 months to complete.
"We are thankful to our state, local and federal elected officials and the support from the university," said Town Manager Tyler Thomas. "We are glad to continue being an economic driver for the southeast region by facilitating the university's growth. We are thankful to the university and Chancellor (Robin Gary) Cummings for their constant support and for recognizing the importance of this project."
Stephanie Suter, deputy director at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Infrastructure, said infrastructure investments like this are crucial for economic development and sustainability.
"This project will bring improvements that will impact the most important aspects of the things that truly matter in our daily lives––health, reliability, resilience and optimism about the future," Suter said. "This project will go a long way toward improving and upgrading essential services to the town to help them become viable and efficient and prepared to meet the challenges ahead."