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Commissioners OK incentives for Kannapolis expansion

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — County commissioners approved incentives Monday for a Rowan County company wanting to add 154 jobs, but the project has a few more hurdles to clear.
Ei, A Pharmaceutical SolutionWorks, previously known as Harmony Labs, hopes to invest $28.45 million in an expansion at its Kannapolis facility.
The company manufactures prescription pharmaceutical and over-the-counter products. Its expansion depends on whether a North Carolina-based biomaterials company chooses Ei to produce its new product line.
“This is the first step in the project approval,” said RowanWorks Executive Director Robert Van Geons. “This does show our support for it.”
Ei also is seeking state incentives in order to move forward, Van Geons said. The city of Kannapolis will consider the project at their March 12 meeting.
If it goes forward, the company’s expansion would create 154 new jobs that would pay an average wage of $41,106 per year. Ei already employs about 210 people at its facility on North Cannon Boulevard in Kannapolis.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to give a five-year grant for Ei equal to 75 percent of new tax revenue created by the project.
Commissioner Jim Sides voted against the package, despite calling it “the best written incentive agreement I have seen submitted to this board in my tenure as a commissioner.”
He said he likes that the agreement incorporates several accountability standards, including a clawback provision to keep companies from receiving incentives if they don’t create the stated jobs or investment.
But Sides said he would rather see a 10-year agreement than a five-year plan, which would start to pay the full incentive amount before all of the jobs are created.
Commissioner Jon Barber asked if that was something RowanWorks would propose, and Van Geons said it is something his agency will look at, but state grants require a local match.
“When we talk about matching state grants, they look at — depending on the project — three to five to a maximum of seven years,” he said. “But we’re open to discussion.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

In other business
Rowan County Commissioners also:
• Delayed a vote until March 19 on the Rowan County Fair Association’s offer to purchase the county fairgrounds for $1 million. Commissioners discussed the offer and said they wanted time to look over a new, complete survey of the property.
• Approved amendments to the county’s zoning and noise ordinance, allowing certain minor changes to an approved conditional use permit without commissioners’ approval.
• Approved an application for a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant, which would fund rehabilitation of six owner-occupied homes and to clear and relocate one home. The board named Hobbs, Upchurch and Associates as program administrator.
• Began the upset bid process for a county-owned property off Amity Hill Road. The county has received a $32,000 offer by Amity Hill Properties to purchase the property, which is currently assessed at $47,736.
• Approved counter-proposal from Crown and Associates for the terms of an extension on its lease of a Providence Church Road property, which is used for a monopole cell tower.
• Delayed a second vote until March 19 on a new fire prevention and protection ordinance.
• Approved several budget amendments and board appointments.
• Met in closed session for attorney-client privileged information regarding a worker’s compensation claim.

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