The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

July 9, 2014

Board OKs $1.7M grant

Stanly roads lose priority

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 — On Monday night, the Stanly County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $1.7 million incentive grant that would bring a new manufacturer and  155 new jobs to Badin.

Plans call for an industrial ceramic products manufacturer to occupy two buildings at the Badin Business Park, which formerly housed Alcoa. Paul Stratos, director of the county’s Economic Development Commission, explained that terms of the grant call for the county to forfeit 75 percent of the company’s required property taxes for five years provided the business meets specific incentive conditions.

In exchange, the start-up company plans to invest an estimated $135 million taxable investment. An average wage for the new employees would be roughly $45,000 annually, Startos said.

Although a public hearing was conducted about the county’s intent to offer a financial incentive toward only what is dubbed “Project Stella,” no other specifics about the proposed business were available. In fact, Stratos said after the meeting he was distressed that the name “Project Stella” was referenced in the commissioners’ agenda, adding that such untimely leaks of information could jeopardize the deal by giving a competing location an advantage.

The Badin Town Council is scheduled to meet tonight with a public hearing and vote on whether it too supports the incentive package.

At some point in time, the project will also involve interaction from state representatives, Stratos said.

Stratos said it could take as much as three to six months to finalize the deal. It would not be until the end of next year before the company could get operational, he added.

Stanly County and the town of Badin would recover the cost from new revenue, and the public would benefit from the additional property, business and sales tax revenue, stimulation of the overall economy and expanded employment opportunities, Stratos said.

 No one spoke in favor or opposition of the incentive grant at the public hearing.

Dana Stoogenke, director of the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization, also addressed commissioners with concerns about the state’s prioritization of N.C. Highway 24/27 and rural county highways in general.

In her Strategic Transportation Investment update, she said the N.C. Department of Transportation relies on a points system that is data driven to determine what road projects will be given priority.

“We’re trying to figure out what this means for the Rocky River RPO,” Stoogenke said.

So far, none of the RPO projects have been funded.

As for N.C. Highway 24/27 receiving any funding for improvements, she was doubtful.

“There’s at least a five-year delay, perhaps as long as 10 years,” Stoogenke said.

She explained that there are two other funding mechanisms, both with less financial resources. One calls for a regional impact that relies on 70 percent data and 30 percent local input. In this category, Stanly County has earned points for a proposed rail project along U.S. Highway 52.

The other is divisional needs. It relies half on data and half on local input. Stanly’s airport has earned points in this category.

Overall, Stoogenke painted a bleak picture for Stanly’s immediate future, one also shared by Lindsey Dunevant, commission vice chairman.

“Rural counties are getting hammered,” he said.

“Even as an east corridor, (N.C. Highway) 24 is being left off altogether.”

Dunevant continued that the state’s lack of recognition of Stanly County’s highways comes at the expense of economic development and tourism. He reminded commissioners that Stanly again finds itself in a doughnut hole in regards to “vital infrastructure,” much like how the county was left off broadband initiatives.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121, ext. 28, or email ritchie@stanlynewspress.com.

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