“In a glimmer of good economic news,” a news story in the Asheville Citizen-Times says, “Buncombe County government is preparing to buy the former Volvo Construction Equipment plant for $7 million in hopes of luring another large employer to the property.” Commissioners are aiming to vote on the matter June 28.
Reporter Mark Barrett writes, “State and local officials have been talking to at least one unnamed company in hopes of convincing its officials to locate a facility in the area.”
It could be a good investment – or not — to invest taxpayer money in a real estate purchase to promote growth in the industrial sector.
Barrett quotes officials explaining why the purchase would be wise:
“Other people have been looking at the site for other purposes and we want that to remain as a manufacturing site,” said Commissioner K. Ray Bailey …
“We think that by owning it we’ll have more leverage in getting a plant there,” said David Gantt, chairman of the Board of Commissioners…
“[The Volvo plant is] one of the shiniest apples in our basket right now,” said Ben Teague, executive director of the Economic Development Coalition …
The 65.2-acre property includes 405,018 square feet of buildings.
With the economy in the doldrums and real estate market in the pits, this might a great time to pick up a bargain. But for a new industrial plant? And is real estate investment the proper role of government?
Barrett identifies the idea’s attraction: “[M]anufacturing employment in the area … still had the second-largest total payroll – the cumulative total of all paychecks—behind health care in Buncombe County last year. The typical manufacturing worker in the county made more than twice what the average retail worker did.”