Buncombe Commissioners to consider incentives for Jacob Holm

At their first meeting of 2014 on Jan. 7, Buncombe County Commissioners will seek public feedback on a plan to give $1.12 million in cash grants to Jacob Holm Industries to help it expand local operations. They’ll also consider hiring 17 new workers at the Health and Human Services Department, as well as new zoning regulations.

In exchange for the county incentive grants, Jacob Holm would agree to invest $45.93 million into its Candler facility, hiring 66 new full time workers at an average annual wage of $46,258 per year.

Based in Switzerland, the company produces nonwoven fabrics, which are used in a variety of hygiene and packaging products. It opened its Candler plant at 1265 Sand Hill Road in 2005, and currently employs about 82 workers there.

The company’s tentative expansion was announced in October pending approval of the incentives from the Buncombe County Commissioners. The public is invited to weigh in on the plan during the Jan. 7 meeting before commissioners vote.

In other business, commissioners will consider spending $213,726 to hire 17 new county workers at the Health and Human Services Department. The employees would help administer NC FAST, a new state program developed to determine eligibility for all public assistance programs. It was created in part to comply with aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which requires a centralized access point for benefit applicants, according to Health and Human Services Director Mandy Stone’s hiring proposal. The plan also notes: “The legacy state computer system is over thirty years old and does not meet federal requirements. Transitioning to the new system has required significant county investment as well as significant additional staff time.”

In addition to the county money, the federal government would provide another $213,726 to help fund the new hires.

Also on the Jan. 7 meeting agenda: commissioners will consider updating the county’s zoning ordinance to include new regulations on public utility stations and renewable energy facilities. The idea is to ensure that such facilities “are well-maintained and that neighboring property owners have reasonable safeguards put into place,” according to a county report. Both planning staff and the volunteer Planning Board recommend adopting the changes.

The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7, in the commissioner’s chambers, located at 200 College Street, suite 326. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.


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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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