11/25/08 — County approves $100K local match for grant to bring firm to Mount Olive

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County approves $100K local match for grant to bring firm to Mount Olive

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 25, 2008 1:46 PM

A $100,000 local match for a state grant that was recently used to help recruit a new industry to Mount Olive was unanimously approved by the Wayne County Board of Commissioners following a short public hearing last week.

It was one of three that were held, with the commission also acting on an amendment to the county's outdoor advertising sign ordinance to allow electronic signs, but taking no action on proposed changes in off-street parking and loading standards.

Wayne County Economic Development Alliance President Joanna Helms told commissioners the $100,000 match is needed to secure a $100,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund for Triangle Suspension System Inc.

The company, which will share a building with its sister company, IMPulse NC Inc. on the Old Mount Olive Highway just north of Mount Olive, manufactures heavy-duty springs for truck suspensions, and is expected to create more than 100 jobs and make a $6.2 million investment in the county, she said.

The salaries for those jobs "are well-above the county's manufacturing wages," she said, explaining that the $100,000 grant represents $1,000 for each job created by the company.

"This a great project for Mount Olive. It is a great project for Wayne County," Mrs. Helms said.

Commissioner Andy Anderson said the company would help offset some of the jobs the county has lost.

"I think this is great," he said.

No one spoke during the hearing held following Mrs. Helms' presentation.

During the hearing on the sign ordinance, Steve Thrift of Lemar Outdoor Advertising of Rocky Mount said the electronic signs allow companies to make better use of their space.

He explained that the new signs, which tend to be smaller, will take the place of existing traditional billboards.

"Are there any flashing lights that could distract motorists?" Anderson asked.

"No flashing lights or animation are allowed," County Planner Connie Price said, explaining that the state already has rules regulating such signs.

Rather, the signs change messages every eight seconds so that as many as six to eight advertisers can share the sign, Thrift said.

In response to questions from Commissioner Jack Best, Price said the signs cost about $150,000 and that they become part of the county tax base just "like any other property."

"I make a motion to approve it so we can go ahead and get it on the tax books," Best said.

Then, after the third public hearing on the proposed changes in off-street parking and loading standards, Smith told commissioners he was not looking for any immediate action.

Price said the proposed changes would apply only in industrial zones.

They would, for the first time, require businesses with six or more parking spaces to have a paved parking area, establish the minimum and maximum number of parking spaces for various uses, and create a minimum parking space size. The change also would require interconnectivity between adjoining parking areas and encourage the use of shared parking for mixed uses. It also establishes stacking requirements for use with drive-up windows.

Commissioners did not indicate when they might act on the proposal.