07/11/12 — Company gets incentive; town gets better water

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Company gets incentive; town gets better water

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 11, 2012 1:46 PM

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Mt. Olive Pickle Co. has committed to making $10 million in improvements over the next five years while Wayne County considers $70,000 in incentives for the company.

Mt. Olive Pickle Co. could be in line to receive $70,000 in economic incentive funding from Wayne County as the company prepares to make $10 million in investments in real property including land and improvements, machinery and equipment over the next five years.

The specifics of the $10 million investment were not mentioned during the Wayne County commissioners' Tuesday morning session.

However, company president Bill Bryan Tuesday afternoon said the company has $4 million in its capital fund for this year, but had not settled on any specific projects.

He noted that the company last year had spent $5 million to expand its distribution center on the Old Mount Olive Highway.

"Our commitment is to spend $10 million in improvements over the next five years," Bryan said.

Commissioners during their Tuesday morning meeting scheduled a public hearing on the incentive package for 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 7 in their meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The town of Mount Olive has received a little more than $2 million from the state for the addition of water lines and a new well and filtration system to improve water quality -- particularly in the area of the pickle plant.

"The big issue is a water quality issue in Mount Olive," County Manager Lee Smith said. "Obviously, when you are a food processor with an item, like pickles or anything that they use brine or a lot of water for, the quality of water determines the taste of your product.

"That being the case, it can affect your sales. Bill Bryan and his staff have worked really hard to maintain a high quality."

The company currently employs 846 permanent and seasonal workers, Smith said. The improvements will help protect those jobs, he said.

If the $70,000 is approved, the pickle company, in turn, would give the money to the town to help meet local match requirements for the state grant.

Smith said that he, Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. and Town Manager Charles Brown have been meeting about the project and funding for well over a year.

The $70,000 would be appropriated from the county's economic development reserve.

The agreement would be for five years, but Smith said the money would be paid back in two years as the county benefits from growth in the tax base.