The big deal: Linamar will bring almost 400 jobs to Asheville

County buys Volvo plant. County sells Volvo plant to Linamar Group, a Canadian manufacturer, the following year. Asheville gives Linamar $2.2 million in incentives over four years. Buncombe puts up $6.8 million in incentives. North Carolina pitches in $9 million. The hoped-for results? Almost 400 jobs for the Asheville-Buncombe area that pay, on average, more than $39,000 a year.

State and local officials were jubilant when they announced the news tonight, June 30, at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner: Linamar would take over the old Volvo plant, recently purchased for $7 million by Buncombe County, and provide 363 jobs and $80 million in capital investment, with the possibility of more to come. The average job will pay $39,752 with benefits.

“This company could have gone anywhere in the world. They chose Asheville,” Gov. Bev Perdue told the audience of local business owners. She asserted the combination of incentives, infrastructure and education secured the deal.

“This project didn’t happen because there was a jobs fairy that flew over Asheville and sprinkled some dust down and said ‘you all deserve this,’” Perdue said. “It doesn’t work that way when 49 other states are competing for the same jobs.”

Linamar will hold a job fair at the Haynes Building on AB-Tech’s Enka campus from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6. Renovation begins in August, and production in November. The company aims to have full production going by late 2013.

The deal’s origins stretch back to late last year, when local officials, led by Buncombe Commissioner K. Ray Bailey, current chair of the local Economic Development Coalition, began brokering an agreement with Linamar. Last December, the governor called Volvo to convince them to lower the selling price of their former plant in order to facilitate the deal. City officials were also involved in the negotiations, with Mayor Terry Bellamy taking company executives on a tour of the old plant. Several weeks ago, Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz visited the area and met with the governor.

“This was a long journey for us, it took a long time to decide on this, but the support was incredible at all levels: We couldn’t say no,” Nick Adams, the company’s vice president for global sales, said. “We’re not moving work here, we’re starting growth. Nobody’s losing their job somewhere else.”

Adams also praised the area’s community college system as one of the best the company has seen, and he said it will pursue apprenticeship and internship programs with AB-Tech.

Ironically, one of the Asheville plant’s first clients will be Volvo, the former occupant.

The city will pay its share of the incentives via tax rebates, while Buncombe will pull from an economic development fund for its share. The state’s $9 million will consist of a combination of grants and tax rebates. Board of Commissioners’ Chair David Gantt told Xpress that additional jobs are a strong possibility given Linamar’s record of growth.

City and county officials promised that the incentives are dependent upon Linamar meeting investment and payroll benchmarks.

According to Linamar executives, the county’s role in securing the building was vital, allowing them to gather additional capital to make the renovation possible. As part of the deal, Linamar will buy the building from the county in early 2012, allowing the county to recoup the money it spent on the sale.

Gantt claimed that for every job Linamar brings to the area, it will create another three indirectly.

“We didn’t get the memo that said manufacturing is dead in the United States!” he exclaimed, praising his colleagues’ “political guts” in choosing to buy the Volvo plant.

Bellamy, who donned a Linamar cap for her speech, pledged the company “the full support of the city, the strength of our world-class workforce and the innovative and independent spirt of our residents.”

The commissioners will discuss the deal in more detail at their July 26 meeting. Asheville City Council will vote on the city’s portion of the incentive package at an upcoming meeting.

Photos and Twitter dispatches from the announcement below.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter; Jake Frankel, staff reporter; Margaret Williams, news editor


Photos by Jonathan Welch

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22 thoughts on “The big deal: Linamar will bring almost 400 jobs to Asheville

  1. More detail on the incentives, please. Typically, the word implies that the government is shifting the tax burden that should be on a business back onto the tax paying public.

    That payroll number indicates an average pay of $105,000 a year. Really? Did I make a mistake in my math?

    Come on, don’t just twitter the celebratory backslapping: send somebody in to get some actual details.

  2. ashevillain7

    I agree with mat cat. Something doesn’t add up here. Either the management is extremely highly paid to skew the average or the numbers are off.

    Re: “And the math goes on” – If 3 additional jobs are created for every job Linmar brings to town that would bring the total impact to 1600 new jobs…not 1200 as stated in the article.

    What kind of jobs are these 1200 extra jobs estimated to be? How did they come up with that number?

    And don’t forget about Volvo! 228 jobs that were affected. There’s no way to tell how many people took the transfer option vs. the unemployment option but the direct net increase in jobs is really only 172 if you factor in the Volvo employees who no longer are in Arden.

    As someone who has been laid off for 6 months now this whole deal really seems like a big *yawn* to me except for the exorbitant amount of incentives local taxpayers will most likely be held responsible for.

  3. LamontCranston

    I can’t find anything about jobs, or careers at thia company either..

    What gives? If they are interviewing next week, then where, and for what??

    Some details would help, thank you.

  4. I’m beginning to think we need to start our own damm news blog…with instant ant tweeting, the person in the room could ask any unasked questions, that might be burning in the minds of those who might be effected.

  5. LamontCranston

    Ms_Magnolia:

    Thank you for the “heads up” on the jobs posting link.

  6. dpewen

    Ok, everyone is complaining about good jobs coming here .. well they did and now you continue to complain … what gives? I like it and hope they succeed! But I understand that making you happy is impossible!

  7. Well, let me be clear: jobs are great and fine and good. But shifting the tax burden off of corporations making millions onto people working for $40,000 a year is not.

    Their first quarter profit this year was just under $25 million dollars, yet the city, county, and state have offered them a combined $18 million in incentives.

    Again, “incentives” is code for “tax breaks”.

    When South Carolina gave Boeing $1 billion in breaks last year, it was shrouded in secrecy. In fact, the actual amount wasn’t even known publicly for months afterward. Here’s what the “incentives” came out to be:

    # A sales tax exemption on construction materials for the manufacturing plant
    # A sales tax exemption on computer equipment
    # A sales tax exemption for the transportation of unfinished aircraft from one facility to another
    # A sales tax exemption on fuel used to test fly aircraft
    # $170 million in economic development bonds to help pay for the construction of Boeing’s new assembly line

    Not to mention that taxpayer money is being used to fund “training” for workers who want a job at the facility.

    Again, it is not my intention to state that the opening of these facilities is bad. My intention is to open up a discussion as to whether or not the people should have to subsidize big business as a condition of employment.

  8. Illuminatti_01

    Would the Dems rally up on the stage and make a big show over what appears to be very little? And expect the locals to bow down in thanks?

  9. dpewen

    Mat, I hear what you are saying but when these things you mentioned are determined to be bad for us taxpayers what will happen? This is the way new business is lured to cities … sad but true.
    Remember, business profits are more important than the good of the citizens. Gee, now it sounds like I am complaining but I accept things and am tired of fighting city hall!!

  10. Asheville Dweller

    How dare another company come in here and bring sustainable jobs to a hard hit area. Shame on them, we should tax them to extinction for this atrocity.

  11. I didn’t say tax them into extinction. And you know I didn’t say that.

    But again, why should a company that is posting $25 million dollar profits last quarter get an $18 million tax break over the next 4 years? What, if any, taxes will they pay?

    I think these are valid questions that should be asked and answered.

  12. It looks like cities will have to forego taxes from a job provider in exchange for those jobs. But it’s guaranteed that the 400 employees will be paying taxes. So maybe it evens out?????

  13. I doubt it evens out very well.

    The losers are the tax paying workers and the local governments. It’s especially ridiculous because once the city, county, and state have to start cutting more programs, more people will claim “government can’t do anything” and also “look how much they tax us.”

    No one ever bothers to ask why corporations are allowed to rake in millions and billions of dollars of profit each year while the rest of the country slides into a depression.

  14. Word I hear is Cities , States quake in their boots in fear to ask for anything besides just providing jobs. The know the big money can easily move on to more accomodating areas …or off shore as has happened a lot.

  15. dpewen

    I live in downtown Asheville and pay taxes however I do not feel like a loser because of this happening!

  16. bill smith

    In the future, the only people paying taxes will be those of us with 30-50k a year jobs. Somehow, I doubt that will keep the streets clean or the police paid. Perhaps we can privatize them!

  17. This is one more (small) example of the damage done to our country by “free trade.”

    Now we’re paying a Canadian company to come here. (NAFTA, writ large.)

    I am utterly opposed to taxing current residents in order to benefit outsider corporations while providing a small number of local jobs.

    Sure, we need jobs. But when we join the race to the bottom, trying to outbid other cities and states for corporate “generosity” in relocating here, we sell out all of Asheville’s workers.

    This is a rotten deal for America, and when the deal comes before City Council, I will vote “no.”

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