Incentive grants approved by county, Rutherfordton

Oct. 22, 2013 @ 09:51 AM

Rutherford County and the Town of Rutherfordton have approved a set of industrial incentives with the intent of bringing a new business to the county.

During a special joint meeting Monday, Rutherford County Commissioners and the Rutherfordton Town Council approved local matches for grants through the One NC Fund Program. The Ruth Town Council was set to approve a similar resolution, however the Council failed to have a quorum at the joint meeting.

Rutherford County Economic Development Commission (EDC) Director Matt Blackwell outlined the limited information available surrounding the potential new business, code named VSC.

He said the company plans to invest $12-14 million over five years and create 76 full-time jobs.

However, he did say the site selection was not finished. Rutherford County is still in competition for the new business.

"It is down to two locations and we are one," Blackwell said.

He said the annual salaries of the jobs created on the manufacturing side are above the county average of $30,836.

"The average annual salary would be 13 percent higher than the average county salary on the manufacturing side," Blackwell said.

Additionally, the remaining jobs — engineering, maintenance, executive and administration — created would be "well-above" the county average.

Under the terms of the incentive package, Rutherford County would submit the grant applications and be responsible for $228,970 over nine years in local match dollars. The Town of Rutherfordton is responsible for $106,940 over nine years and Ruth would be responsible for $52,810 over nine years.

The grants being applied for include from the One NC Fund Program and Golden LEAF Economic Catalyst grant. Blackwell said Duke Energy has also provided a cash grant as part of the incentive package. Blackwell said Isothermal Community College and the North Carolina Department of Commerce partnered with the county and Golden LEAF to develop the incentive package proposal.

"Jobs created by the company are well above the county average," Blackwell said. "It's consistent with the target market study.

"It represents an opportunity to create jobs in the county, Rutherfordton and Ruth."

County officials have been tight-lipped about the scope of the project, not revealing any other details that those presented Monday.

"This is a highly-confidential project," said Carl Classen, Rutherford County manager. "We have been told from the beginning that if we leak, we lose."

Blackwell did say the project has been determined to be in the "advanced materials section" under the EDC target market study finished in spring of 2013.

The documents approved by both boards will be submitted as statements of support from the County and Town of Rutherfordton. Classen said, if awarded the business, a final negotiation process will occur and the complete incentive agreement will be presented to all three boards.

"We feel very strongly about the project," Classen said. "It is a great project for the county, Rutherfordton and Ruth."