County looking at Foreign Trade Zone membership

Dec. 01, 2013 @ 04:38 AM

In an effort to help local businesses have easier availability to ship their goods overseas, the Rutherford County Commission will look at joining a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ).

The new zone, spearheaded by the Charlotte Regional Partnership, will encompass 17 counties surrounding the Charlotte area.

Commissioners will consider a request to join the application process during their December meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

In a letter sent from the Charlotte Regional Partnership to Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen, the Partnership intends to augment its current FTZ to a new program called "Alternative Site-Management Framework (ASF)."

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.

Additionally, commissioners will:

• conduct a public hearing for the Community Development Block Grant program;

• elect a chairman and vice-chairman;

• consider bids for Type II and Type III ambulances;

• consider a resolution requesting U.S. 221 become a secondary road in the Town of Rutherfordton when the bypass is completed;

• approve its 2014 meeting schedule;

• hear a report on the Rutherford County Farmers' Market;

• consider a resolution for an Industrial Development Fund Grant application;

• consider a resolution to support an application on behalf of Trelleborg Coated Systems US, Inc.;

• receive an update on a periodic review of county financial information.