Asheville City Council approves Linamar economic incentives

At their Aug. 9 meeting, Asheville City Council members approved a $2 million economic-development incentive for Canadian manufacturer Linamar. If the company fulfills construction and job-creation targets, it will get a 90 percent waiver on city taxes for the next five years. Council voted 5-1 to approve the deal, with Council member Cecil Bothwell voting against it and Council member Esther Manheimer absent.

Earlier this summer, Buncombe County officials purchased the former Volvo plant in south Asheville and agreed to sell it to Linamar as part of an economic-development incentive package. Linamar representatives have said the company will create 400 new jobs at the facility.

In other actions:

• Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy read into the record Capt. Jeff Bowen’s obituary. Bowen, who died in the July 28 fire on Biltmore Avenue, was “a true public servant [who] served his community well,” said Bellamy.

• Council members voted 6-1 to raise recycling fees from $2.95 to $3.50 per month; larger bins will soon be dispersed. Mayor Bellamy voted against the measure, citing the existing high participation rate (80 percent of residents).

• After hearing concerns that a new community center should bear the name of a prominent African-American resident, Council members voted 6-0 in favor of naming it the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center.

• Council members also decided to interview nine of the 15 candidates vying for seats on the Planning and Zoning Commission: Abby Emison, Kristy Carter, Jeremy Goldstein, Bruce Greene, Jane Mathews, Mark Mathews, Joe Minicozzi, David Mosrie, Steve Rasmussen.

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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11 thoughts on “Asheville City Council approves Linamar economic incentives

  1. dpewen

    I am glad good paying jobs are coming and I hope this deal works out … Cecil, why are you against it?

  2. This vote is consistent with my opposition to corporate welfare, which has guided all of my votes on similar deals since I’ve been on Council.

    Corporations have gamed the system so that municipalities and states now have to bid for their attention. As I stated at the meeting, the only way to stop the practice is for elected officials to stand up to them.

    The whole scheme of offering tax relief to selected businesses puts the government in the position of selecting winners and losers. Why offer tax breaks to Linamar instead of to local small businesses that employ an equal number of people? If our tax rate is fair, and I’d argue that it is, then it ought to apply to all property equally. Our goal should be to make our community so attractive that businesses simply want to locate here – and many do!

    The “incentive” idea creates a race to the bottom, not a trail to the peak.

    In this particular case, I wonder if we weren’t played: Volvo leaves an empty plant and then one of their large suppliers conveniently accepts $10 million to move into the place.

    All of that said, I am glad the jobs are coming here, and I hope the laid off Volvo workers find employment at reasonable wages.

  3. Barry Summers

    Thanks for saying what needs to be said, Cecil. The race to the bottom on needed tax revenue, wages, and job security won’t end unless states and municipalities realize they are being played against each other.

  4. sharpleycladd

    Council is mulling another corporate giveaway that would have an extremely negative impact on locally-owned manufacturers, no?

  5. It seems like the general operating policy of Asheville (and most municipalities) in the modern era is to always be mulling corporate giveaways.

    As to negative impact on local businesses, I’d say the differential tax deals always have that effect, in greater or lesser measure. Taxing Peter to hire Paul.

  6. Gordon Smith

    400 good jobs.
    Factory that’s currently empty.
    5 years of 10% taxes.
    Then forever of full taxation.
    Revenue that wouldn’t be coming in without Linamar.
    Multiplier effect.
    Growth of precision machine industry in the area.

    When you’re an unemployed machinist, I don’t think you’re as quick to hold an academic opposition to inviting high wage, career track jobs to the area. Further, there will be only positive impact on other local businesses – it’s not like these jobs are being taken away from a locally-owned machine plant. The people who work at this factory will spend a great deal of their dollars in Asheville.

    If someone has an argument as to how to lure this kind of business here without competing via incentives, I’m all ears.

  7. bill smith

    [b]The people who work at this factory will spend a great deal of their dollars in Asheville.[/b]

    Good thing, since Asheville itself will basically be paying the company to employ people. Good that SOME of those millions will make it back to the local economy, even if for only a brief time.

  8. The history of “incentive” programs is really spotty. It isn’t uncommon for businesses to take their benefits just long enough to qualify, then move on, sometimes leaving their host cities in far worse shape. I documented those sorts of scams in my first book, back in 2000.

    Of course, now that we’ve approved the deal, I hope for the best. And for the folks who get those jobs, obviously, this is good news.

    All I ask is, “At what real cost?”

  9. Doug manning

    Volvo took the machinery with them & left the place empty.. Just like Gerber, Saint Gobain, BASF, & all the others Who left. Many people have new jobs & drive to Greenville SC & Spartanburg to work each day, couple this with gas prices our gov just increased… We would move but selling our homes is a problem. AVL rivals Charleston in real estate taxes.. Why can’t AVL get more progressive people to live here?

  10. bill smith

    So, if a city is paying a company to employ people, is that socialism?

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