County approves eco devo initiatives

Eckler elected chair; Holland named vice-chair
Dec. 03, 2013 @ 08:15 AM

Rutherford County may become part of a Foreign Trade Zone.

Monday, the Rutherford County Commission approved allowing the county to join the application process to join an alternative site-managment framework (ASF) application for a new Foreign Trade Zone that will encompass 17 counties surrounding the Charlotte area.

Prior to the decision, commissioners elected Bill Eckler as the Commission chairman and Eddie Holland as the vice-chairman.

Eckler served as the chairman in 2011 prior to outgoing chairman Julius Owens.

With regards to the Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), the Charlotte Regional Partnership sent a letter to Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen notifying their intent to augment its current FTZ.

"It is beneficial for our manufacturers looking to sell their goods overseas," said Matt Blackwell, Rutherford County Economic Development Commission director. "It will also help to bring in goods from overseas."

To join the new FTZ, the county will be responsible for a $2,500 fee to cover the application and a yearly fee of $1,000 of which Classen said will come from the Rutherford County Economic Development Commission.

There are 35 FTZ zones approved for ASF status in the United States. In the southeast, ASF-approved zones include the Piedmont Triad, Research Triangle, upstate South Carolina, Port of Charleston, Northern Virginia and three in Georgia.

Charlotte is currently part of FTZ #57, which is a traditional FTZ and includes Mecklenburg, Union and Catawba counties. By pursuing an ASF, the zone can be expanded to the 17 counties within a 90-minute drive from the Port of Charlotte.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, an FTZ is a "secure area under U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory."

A benefit to businesses in Rutherford County is while their goods are stored in the zone, they are not subject to U.S. duty or excise taxes. Those goods can then be exported from the zone free of duty or excise taxes, according to Homeland Security.

County notes indicate there may be potential for exploration into Rutherford County participating in an FTZ based in upstate South Carolina.

"We know the work that has gone on in Greer and, if it is possible, we want to let them know our interest in participating there as well," Classen said.

Additionally, commissioners approved a resolution supporting a request from Trelleborg Coated Systems US, Inc. to the North Carolina Department of Transportation adding turning lanes near their facility in Rutherfordton.

Blackwell said there are no funds required from the county to construct the turn lanes and matching resolutions have been sent to the town councils in Rutherfordton and Ruth for their approval.

In another economic development move, commissioners approved a resolution supporting an application for an Industrial Development Fund grant. Blackwell said the grant — in the amount of $200,000 — will be for an existing business which plans to create 20 new jobs and invest $1.9 million in their current facility.

The grant will help with water infrastructure to the current facility.

"In order to meet the water requirements, we have looked at the project with Broad River Water Authority," Blackwell said.

In other business, commissioners: 

• approved a proclamation for Mary T. Cole's retirement from the Department of Social Services;

• approved presented appointments for the Fire Department Board of Trustee's for Fireman's Relief Fund and the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Fund;

• received an update on activity from the Tourism Development Authority;

• approved budget amendments;

• approved a pair of bids for new ambulances totaling $222,592;

• approved a resolution to designate the former U.S. 221 as a secondary road upon the completion of the U.S. 221 bypass;

• approved a resolution awarding a service revolver to Rutherford County Sheriff Sgt. Don Huckabee;

• heard a report and approved a recommendation to move the Rutherford County Farmers Market to the Florence Mill site in Forest City;

• tabled consideration for a change in rules and procedures for the Commission;

• approved a bid award of $675,000 for Queens Gap project 2 grading and construction;

• approved moving a cul-de-sac from Queens Gap project 2 to project 10;

• approved a change order in the amount of $53,050 to add a section of paving to the Grey Rock project.