08/17/04 — City and county will match grant to save APV plant

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City and county will match grant to save APV plant

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on August 17, 2004 2:06 PM

Goldsboro and county officials have approved providing $300,000 to try to save 120 jobs.

The Goldsboro City Council voted unanimously Monday to match a grant of up to $150,000 that economic development officials say will allow a company to buy the APV Baker plant.

The county commissioners voted today to also provide $150,000.

The money would go to Turkington Industries and would match a pending state grant that is also for $300,000.

The APV plant employs 159 employees in Wayne County with an average salary of $47,000, not including fringe benefits. The average length of employment of its workforce is 15 years.

The company's investment in Wayne County in materials and equipment is about $2.8 million. Turkington Industries of England has made an offer to purchase APV Baker.

"Turkington has submitted a proposal that would retain 80 percent of the jobs," said City Manager Richard Slozak. "They're applying for a grant, which calls for a local match of $300,000."

"It would impact the area significantly if they left," he added.

Joanna Thompson, president of the Wayne County Economic Development Commission, said during the City Council's public hearing Monday that it was important to keep the company here.

"Retention is the number one priority of EDC," she said. She said providing the grant would save 120 jobs.

She said that Wayne County would also be the first U.S. location for Turkington.

Mary Ann Cotugno asked if there was a guarantee that Turkington would remain in the area for a certain number of years, or the money could be returned.

City Attorney Tim Finan said that the conditions of the matching grant don't allow that kind of stipulation.

A couple of people expressed some reservations about giving tax money to a company that they said did not employ a representative number of black citizens.

Charles Wright said that only 15 percent of the employees were black, that there were no black students participating in the intern program and no black management employees.

Wright said that the 15 percent of blacks employed at APV Baker were "clearly not proportional to the workforce population in Goldsboro."

"I'm not against saving the company," he said. "But private financing is preferred."

Sylvia Barnes, president of the Goldsboro chapter of the NAACP, said she thought the information presented by Wright was "astounding."

"I ask you to give considerable consideration to this," she said. "I'm not against keeping employment, as long as it's fair to everyone."

Slozak said that the city was not voting to appropriate any money, it would only be stating its intention to match a grant.

"We can incorporate these employment concerns in the letter we send to the company telling them of our intentions to match the grant," he said.

Both the council's and the commissioners' votes were unanimous to match the grant.