At their first meeting of the year, the Buncombe County commissioners unanimously approved $350,000 in economic-incentive grants for German metalworking company Reich LLC, which will expand its facility in the Vista Industrial Center in Arden. The county funds match an equivalent amount in state incentives.
In exchange, the company has agreed to invest $22 million in new machinery and equipment and hire a minimum of 35 additional employees at an average annual wage of at least $44,000, Planning Director Jon Creighton told the commissioners during the Jan. 15 meeting. The local plant, the company's only North American facility, currently employs 27 people; its German headquarters has about 700 employees. Reich produces automotive components such as fuel-injection systems and ball bearings.
"I hope they continue to grow here in Buncombe County," noted Creighton, estimating that for every dollar in local economic incentives, Buncombe County will eventually get back more than $10 in taxes.
Commissioner Mike Fryar, a Republican, was attending his first meeting since being belatedly sworn in Jan. 9 (see sidebar, “Frost Gives Democrats Majority”). “We need work in this valley," Fryar declared, adding, "This is a good way to do it."
The commissioners also heard an update on property reappraisals. Tax Director Gary Roberts said his department was in the final stages of determining the new property values and expected to begin notifying residents Jan. 22.
Overall, predicted Roberts, property values will probably be close to or slightly below the last assessment in 2006. The final figures could play a major role in how the commissioners set the tax rate for 2013.
Residents, he noted, have until mid-April to appeal their revaluation. And board Chair David Gantt encouraged anyone with questions to take advantage of the process.
"We want everyone to know what their rights are," said Gantt. "It's not personal if you want to appeal. We really do want to determine the right rate."