Buncombe commissioners approve $1.92 million for BorgWarner, $395,000 for school land

Buncombe County commissioners voted unanimously May 13 to give BorgWarner $1.92 million in economic incentive grants. In exchange, the company agreed to hire 154 new local workers over the next five years and invest $55 million into its Arden facility at 1849 Brevard Road.

The agreement stipulates that the new jobs pay an average annual wage of $74,571 — more than twice the county average. According to the approved resolution, “If the county did not promise such economic development incentives, then BorgWarner may not complete the project,” it reads.

BorgWarner’s facility in Arden opened in 1977 and currently employs over 650 full-time workers. The company is based in Michigan and operates 60 plants in 19 countries. The local expansion will help meet growing demand for its turbocharging engine systems, which are used in a range of vehicles, from commercial trucks and off-highway equipment to high-performance race cars, said company officials.

“We want them to be part of the community,” said Buncombe County Planning Director Jon Creighton. “They’re here and willing to invest.” In five years, the company’s investment will generate roughly $10 million in local tax revenue, he said.

Commissioner David King was criticized by opponent Miranda DeBruhl in the recent Republican primary campaign for previous votes he took in favor of such economic incentive deals. DeBruhl won that race by a wide margin, forcing King out of his commission seat at the end of the year. But he joined with his Republican incumbents May 13 in enthusiastically supporting the BorgWarner deal.

“This is about real people,” he said, noting that he worked at the company in the 1980s. “This company has done a great deal for the community and will continue to do so. … I’m very excited. … It’s a great thing for Buncombe County.”

No attendees spoke during a public comment session on the issue.

School land

On another financial front, commissioners unanimously approved spending $395,000 to buy two different parcels of land.

The county will spend $200,000 to buy 1.5 acres at 102 Springside Road. The property is adjacent to Roberson High School and is being acquired “for future school expansion or other county needs,” according to the county resolution.

The county will also spend $195,000 to buy 2.43 acres near 1243 Sand Hill Road. The lot is adjacent to 22.17 acres the county bought last year for $1.98 million to build a new Enka Intermediate School. The resolution states the the county will either let the school use the land or transfer its title to the Buncombe County Board of Education.

Neither land purchase was discussed during the public meeting. Instead, commissioners approved the deals as part of their “consent agenda” items, which are not typically debated.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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