5-20-2020 – Big jobs at stake in potential expansion

Posted on: May 20th, 2020 by admin

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May 20, 2020

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May 19, 2020 6:35 PM

 

County officials hope that an incentives package will convince a company with local operations to go ahead with a five-year, $120 million expansion project there that could add more than 100 high-paying jobs and keep 120 more from leaving.

 

The expansion of the company, which was publicly identified only by the label Project Jorgai, would be second only to the Google expansion in its size and impact, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.

 

“This is one of the largest projects that we’ve ever done,” Murray said. “There are two states competing with us for this project, and they are states that are well known for their aggressive campaigns to recruit.”

 

Murray said she isn’t worried that the company will leave Caldwell County altogether, but some of its local jobs would move if one of the other sites is chosen for the expansion.

 

“It will create 111 new jobs, and those jobs pay almost 30 percent more than our average private-sector wage” of approximately $40,000 per year, she said. “And if we lose it, they will cut 120 jobs that will be moved to the new facility.”

 

The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners approved offering the company a 10-year property tax grant, which for 10 years would return to the company 75 percent of the taxes assessed on the new property value created by the investment in the expansion.

 

The board also offered job-creation incentives of $2,000 for each job created up to 111 jobs as well as for each job retained up to 120, for a total of $462,000.

 

Murray said the company was not publicly identified because competitive state grants call for confidentiality until a final decision is made.

 

Board chairman Randy Church said that the project would be a massive windfall for Caldwell County and that he hopes state leaders will continue to support the county’s bid.

 

In other business, the commissioners were told that Caldwell County will receive nearly $1.6 million through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security

(CARES) Act, which can be used only for expenses directly related to the fight against COVID-19 between March 27 and the end of 2020.

 

Emergency Services Director Dino DiBernardi said that the county could get the money within as little as nine days, but that the county needs to submit a plan by June 1 for how to use it. He requested that part of the funds be used to hire a contract employee to oversee grant applications related to the coronavirus, as advised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 

“Being realistic, we’re unfortunately looking at a long-term pandemic,” he said. “But this funding will tremendously impact our ability to respond to and prevent the future spread of (the coronavirus).”

 

Reporter Garrett Stell can be reached at 828-610-8723.

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