AYDEN, N.C. (WNCT) – Big economic development is in the works for a small town in Pitt County.

Ayden is pursuing a grant to construct the N.C. Food Commercialization Center, which would spark economic growth throughout the East.

The town is applying for a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to create what’s being called a regional food hub.

The center is an innovative idea to connect entrepreneurs and local farmers to the marketplace. Locally grown farm food would be produced, marketed, and distributed out of the center in Ayden.

Project developers expect the center to create more than 250 jobs, with about $920 million in economic impact by 2025.

Mayor Steve Tripp says this will be an economic game changer in the East.

“The whole idea is we’ll get into the marketplace,” Mayor Tripp said. “Once it becomes successful, then the entrepreneur will out produce or have capacity that we cannot fulfill, then they’ll open up a new center, a new industrial in Ayden, and then the cycle will start over again.”

Ayden should hear back from the Economic Development Administration about the grant within a couple months. Building the facility could take more than a year.

The project would be a collaboration between Ayden, Pitt County Commissioners, the NC State College of Agriculture, East Carolina University, and Pitt Community College.