Counting on a longterm return and benefit to the area, Buncombe County commissioners approved two economic incentive packages today, Nov. 18, in exchange for the creation of new jobs and millions of dollars of investment in the county economy.
Commissioners unanimously approved a $9 million economic incentive for gear maker Linamar North Carolina Inc., to be paid in six annual installments of $1.5 million beginning in 2015. In return, the company promises to expand its Arden plant and create 400 new jobs, averaging $39,000 in annual salaries.
“The county really gets return on this incentive investment because when you [get] jobs paying at least $39,000 per year, that has an indirect effect [that creates] other jobs in the community,” said Buncombe attorney Michael Frue.”So in 2021, that’s over 900 new jobs in the community, 400 for Linamar.”
The original $6.8 million from the 2011 agreement has been paid in full, according to County Attorney Michael Frue. The $9 million for the 2014 agreement will be paid in six installments of $1.5 million, beginning in 2015.
If Linamar does not meet its employment and investment promises, it will have to pay money back, Frue explained. “If Linamar fails to meet the 400 jobs as promised [in the new agreement], or fails to meet the expenses as promised, then there will be proportional paybacks to the county, [and] if they don’t do anything, of course, we’d get all the money back.”
The same stipulation applies to local company PolyLinks, which received a $25,000 economic incentive from commissioners. The company’s expansion is expected to generate an $800,000 return on investment, including 12 new full-time positions with average yearly salaries of $35,8000, excluding benefits. As with Linamar, the new positions are also calculated to spur seven new jobs indirectly.
“There’s always some opposition to county commission[ers] doing economic incentives,” said Commissioner David King. “But we live in the real world … where you have South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and other states throughout the Southeast that are competing for these jobs and these planned expansions. …
“We compete in the market just like everyone else,” King continued. “Above and beyond all these so-called political ideologies and principles are the people of Buncombe County who need jobs. I’m proud of the work this commission has done in putting forth economic incentives to keep Buncombe County a viable place to live.”
He added, “For every 100 jobs that are created in Buncombe County, there’s a $10 million spinoff as a result. So the 400 additional job, that’s $40 million a year, roughly, spun off into the county.”
In Other Business
- Commissioners approved two grant applications that will be submitted by Mountain Mobility, one worth more than $830,000 under the Community Transportation Program Grant, the other $117,000 via the Appalachian Development Transportation Assistance Program. The first would be earmarked for administrative and capital costs. The local matches required by the county would total approximately $123,000 for both grants.
- After some deliberation, commissioners also approved two rezoning requests to R-1 Single Family Residential districts.
- Commissioners agreed to provide $118,400 toward creating conservation easements requested by the Land Conservation Advisory Board, the Agricultural Advisory Board and the Planning Department. The easements will preserve 287 acres of land, and another $2,084,000 in associated costs will be covered by private donations, grants and the value of donated property.
- Chairman David Gantt made a special presentation to departing Commissioner David King, who lost the May primary to Miranda Debruhl, who went on to beat King’s wife, Nancy Waldrop, on Nov. 4. Gantt thanked King for his service. “We’ve supported many organizations who partner with the county and do so much for the people for this county,” said King. “Without being on the board, I wouldn’t have been aware of what takes place and just how much the county does. I’m quite proud. I’d also like to say [that] elected official come and go, but the real unsung heroes are the 1,400 people who work at this county. They’re the ones who I’m proud of.” King, choking up, received a standing ovation from the rest of the commissioners.