07/03/13 — County approves incentive for plant

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County approves incentive for plant

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 3, 2013 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners agreed Tuesday to an $886,000 incentive package to help the Dudley Georgia-Pacific Chip and Saw plant with a possible $90 million expansion project that would create 20 new jobs with an average salary of $55,938.

Commissioners unanimously approved the incentives although there is no guarantee the company will select the Dudley plant for the expansion. The incentive would take the form of grants based on the amount of taxes the company would pay on new equipment over a five-year period. The grants would not be given unless the Dudley plant is chosen for the expansion.

Now the county has to wait to see if it is enough -- other parts of the state as well as South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia are competing for the project, said Mike Haney, existing industry specialist for the Wayne County Development Alliance.

Haney, speaking just prior to a public hearing on the incentives, told commissioners that the company would complete its "due diligence" and would announce its decision at a later date.

The grants would amount to 20 percent of the taxes paid on the new equipment in 2014, 40 percent in 2015, 60 percent in 2016, 50 percent in 2017, and 30 percent in 2018 for an average of 45 percent over the five years.

The "grant back" would be on the new equipment only, Haney said.

The $90 million investment would be spread over three years in increments of $10 million, $50 million and $30 million.

The taxes paid on the new investment would be approximately $1.9 million. In turn, the county would provide the grants totaling $886,000 over the five years.

"We are in the black on this deal," said County Manager Lee Smith.

The Dudley plant has lumber (chip and saw) and plywood facilities, said Eric Abercrombie, senior manager for communications and public affairs with Georgia-Pacific.

The plywood facility has been in operation since the 1980s and the lumber operation since 1973. There are approximately 420 employees in the plywood operation and about 100 in the lumber facility, he said.

The company takes a long-term view on how it looks at its investments, Abercrombie said.

"As everyone knows, the housing industry took a big hit," he said. "Our two facilities here in Dudley are tied to that. As we have been evaluating the market conditions, it is receiving a slow and steady recovery.

"So our investments are to look at how we can be ready to meet our customers' needs when they are ready to recover. As we evaluate all of our facilities in the Southeast we look to announce something soon."

He did not indicate when a decision could be expected.

Steve L. Herring of Goldsboro was the only person to speak during the hearing. Herring said he was among the workers who helped build the Dudley plant. The incentive is a good idea, he said.

After the hearing Commissioner Bill Pate called the company a "great" corporate citizen that had put county residents to work and that had provided tax dollars.

Commissioner John Bell's motion to offer the incentive was unanimously approved.