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Stanly Board of Commissioners conducts economic development hearings

Economic development was a major topics at Tuesday’s Stanly County Board of Commissioners hearing.

Two public hearings were conducted regarding two separate Economic Development Incentive grants. One was an update on a previous grant issued to an unnamed company called Project Steel, increasing the amount to 75 percent for a projected $4.26 million due to some renovations to the real property, according to county manager Andy Lucas. The grant is for eight years.

“The amount of money the prospect is investing change,” Lucas said Tuesday at the meeting. He added 44 jobs will be created and there is competition for this project with South Carolina. The City of Albemarle will be taking the lead on getting state grants for the project as well, Lucas said.

No one spoke at the public hearing. Vice-Chairman Gene McIntyre moved to approve the grant, seconded by Commissioner Matthew Swain and the motion passed unanimously.

The other was a five-year grant to expand a current manufacturing company. The 35 percent grant is expected to lead to a $1.1 million expansion and creation of at least five jobs.

Tuesday’s public hearing was the second for the project, which Lucas said was “an Albemarle-based business.” Lucas added competition exists for the project with another location.

After no persons spoke at the public hearing, Commissioner Bill Lawhon moved to approve the grant, seconded by Commissioner Ashley Morgan. The motion passes unanimously.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, a budget amendment and contract were passed to not exceed $125,000 for a new project named Project Blue Sky. The money will go to provide the “necessary project management,” according to the Sept. 4 agenda packet.

Documents also stated the county staff will be seeking funding for a registered lobbyist “to assist with securing discretionary grant funding” for Project Blue Sky after the 2018 general election in November.

Lucas referred to Project Blue Sky as “a transformative project.” He added that “given the size, complexity and competitive nature of the project” his recommendation was to find a person or firm “with the ability to coordinate different grants and incentives at the state and local level.” Lucas also said the firm chosen should be “someone who knows their way around Raleigh” and can work with the various agencies, including the U.S. Economic Development Administration in Atlanta. Three firms have submitted bids for the contract.

“At the end of the day, if we were to put this on the EDC and the (county) staff, that’s all they would do at the end of the day,” Lucas said. He added the potential of the investment could be “several hundred million dollars” and create “several hundred jobs.” There is also a lot of competition for the project as well, Lucas said.

Commissioner Swain moved to approve the budget amendment, seconded by Lawhon, and the motion passed unanimously.

In other economic development news, five persons were reappointed to the local Economic Development Commission Board: Cindy Beane, Larry Baucom, Wayne Sasser ,Charles Brown and Mike Layton.

Commissioner Swain asked the board’s legal counsel, Jenny Furr, if Sasser would have to step down from the EDC board if he was elected to the Board of Commissioners in November. Furr said persons are allowed to hold one elected and one appointed position.

Commissioners Scott Efird made the motion to approve the five persons to two-year terms. The motion passed unanimously.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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