Salisbury competes for 90 Freshouse jobs
By Emily Ford
SALISBURY - The city wants jobs and it will pay to get them, Salisbury City Council agreed Tuesday.
Council members voted unanimously to offer a cash incentive to Freshouse II LLC if the company invests $6.3 million in its Salisbury operation and creates 90 new jobs.
Freshouse has operated a packaging and distribution operation in Salisbury for nearly 15 years and now employs 123 people in a leased facility at 216 Julian Road. The company plans to consolidate operations in Salisbury, Georgia and Florida and needs a larger location, general counsel Michael Smith told City Council.
The company is considering buying and renovating one of the former WA Brown & Son buildings located at 311 Long Meadow Drive. WA Brown operates in a different facility.
The project is competitive, and Freshouse is considering sites in Georgia, Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.
"We are looking for Salisbury's help and help from the state of North Carolina to make that decision a little easier," Smith said.
Rowan County commissioners voted Monday to offer a similar incentive, and RowanWorks Economic Development is working with the N.C. Department of Commerce to develop a potential package of support for the company, said executive director Robert Van Geons.
The company will consider the assistance package during internal deliberations and then make a decision, said Van Geons.
City Council agreed on a five-year grant for the company totaling 70 percent of the real and personal property tax revenue generated by the project. That's lower than the city's standard 75 percent, because not all of the money spent by the company would be new investment.
Of the $6.3 million, roughly $4.5 million would cover new equipment and property improvements.
Based on the projected tax revenue generation, the company is eligible to receive city grants of between $16,732 and $20,078 annually for five years.
City Council members enthusiastically approved the incentive offer and encouraged Freshouse to choose Salisbury.
"This kind of business expansion is exactly what we encourage and support," Mayor Pro Tem Susan Kluttz said.
Even artist Clyde, who spoke in opposition at several other public hearings Tuesday, threw his support toward the incentive.
"Anything we can do to convince this gentleman to come to our city, our community, I think we should do it," said Clyde, who only uses one name.
The new jobs would pay an average wage of $26,442. Over the next 10 years, Salisbury would collect an estimated $184,527 of new revenue, Van Geons said.
To receive the incentive, Freshouse must create 52 jobs by 2014, 70 jobs by 2015 and 90 jobs by 2016.
If the jobs are not created or maintained, the city could reduce or eliminate the grant payments.