01/23/13 — County OKs match to state incentive grants

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County OKs match to state incentive grants

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 23, 2013 1:46 PM

Local matches totaling $99,125 for state industrial incentive grants were approved Tuesday by Wayne County commissioners after no one spoke at two public hearings on the grants.

The grants are for two projects that will create 67 new jobs while making nearly $6 million in total investments in the county.

Balfour Beatty Rail on Dewey Street has received a $60,000 One NC Grant and an $85,000 NC Rural Center Occupied Building Grant for its Goldsboro Traction Power Group. The company, which manufactures electrical components for the public transit industry, including light rail and streetcars, is planning a $1 million expansion that will add 29 new jobs.

The $1 million includes $600,000 for renovations and $450,000 for new equipment.

Wayne County had been asked for a $32,000 match for the One NC Grant and $2,125 for the Rural Center grant. Goldsboro had been asked for the same amount.

ACX Pacific Northwest has been awarded a $60,000 One NC Grant and a $340,000 NC Rural Center Building Reuse Grant. The animal feed company plans to create 38 jobs with an initial invest $4.7 million over the next three years as it renovates and leases the former 158,400-square-foot Carolina Tobacco Warehouse on Jeffreys Lane.

The final total investment is expected to reach $9 million, said Joanna Helms, president of the Wayne County Development Alliance.

The county had been asked for a $77,000 match for the ACX Pacific Northwest grants -- $60,000 for the One NC Grant and $17,000 for the Rural Center grant. The city was not asked for a match since the property is outside the city limits.

It will be the California-based company's first East Coast operation.

Alliance Vice President Mike Haney said the county beat out competition from Jacksonville, Fla. for the Balfour Beatty Rail project.

The county also won out in competition from Duplin and Sampson counties, as well as from several locations in California for the ACX Pacific Northwest, Mrs. Helms said.

Mrs. Helms noted that both projects had been discussed several times with commissioners in closed session.

The One NC Fund Grant program is a discretionary fund with the grant amount determined by the number of jobs to be created and its overall impact on a community, she said. It is performance based with an agreement that has to be signed by the company, state and local government. The agreement sets forth the number of jobs that will be created as well as the investment level.

The funds are dispersed after the promised jobs and investment are completed, she said.

The jobs must be maintained for a certain amount of time, if not the company must refund the grant funds to all parties.

"It is a minimal, yet wise investment for Wayne County that has virtually little to no risk. Payback is within a very reasonable time," Mrs. Helms said.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery asked about the term of the payback.

No term is required, but the county has looked at a period of no more than five years, she said.

"The preferred term is three years," she said. "In the case of these projects they will be returned within two to four years."

The county is expected to recoup is $32,125 for the Balfour Beatty Rail project and two years for ACX Pacific Northwest, she said.

Daughtery said it is important that the public know that the county investment would be recaptured through taxes in a short period of time.

Commissioner John Bell then offered up a motion to approve matches for both projects.

Commissioner Wayne Aycock asked Mrs. Helms how pushed the county was for approving the grants. The county has until March 4, she said.

"The Wayne County Development Alliance is not like the federal stimulus money that we hear about that comes to different companies," said Commissioner Ray Mayo. "One of the things that I like about what we do in Wayne County is that we control, we have complete control as the county and the WCDA as to the disbursement of the funds and the payback.

"It is an investment for the county. When we are talking about creating jobs this is the right way to go. It is the safest way to go. I support these two projects."

Commissioners unanimously approved the motion.