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Board of Commissioners approves incentives for brewery expansion

With only one dissenting vote, Rowan County Commissioners on Monday approved incentives for New Sarum Brewery as the company looks to expand and move into a building on Depot Street.
The 4-1 vote approved ten years of grant assistance at a rate of 40 percent of the real and personal property tax revenue. Board of commissioners chairman Jim Sides was the only dissenting vote and expressed concern about the rate at which incentives would be given. Sides’ concerns sparked brief discussion that new commissioners should develop a policy for incentives that apply existing business in Rowan County looking to expand in addition to the current policy, which only applies to new businesses.
He outlined other county incentive models as a reason for his criticism. For example, a level one grant under the county’s model usually requires a $5 million investment and would repay 75 percent of incentives over a five-year period, Sides said. New Sarum Brewery’s investment was $2.2 million.
“I’m just curious as to where we came up with the 40 percent and 10 years,” he said. “I know that we have voted for various changed in this policy for grants in the past and I’m glad to see that we’re identifying that there’s a need to address existing and new businesses that fall below the level one category. In my opinion, the grant should be somewhere less than what a level one grant would be.”
During each year of the proposed 10-year incentive agreement, the facility would generate $14,300 of new revenue annually for Rowan County, according to an economic analysis by Geons. The county would provide an incentive grant of approximately $5,720 and retain $8,580, according to the analysis.
Before taking a vote, Sides said other option could be to provide New Sarum with 40 percent for five years or 20 percent for ten years.
“It seems like every grant that comes forward we get farther and farther away from the policies that we voted on to develop,” he said. “Why would you deviate upwards to a level two grant in a case like this. It should actually go in reverse.”
In response to Sides, Van Geons spoke about supporting existing business.
“We’ve had a number of conversations about being aggressively supportive of existing businesses, but as of today we do not have a formal policy for those projects,” Van Geons said. “Because the companies are already here, often their investment is smaller than those relocating.”
After discussion, commissioners held a public hearing for the proposed incentives. No one in attendance spoke in favor or against the incentives.
Shortly after commissioner Jon Barber motioned to approve the incentives, commissioner Chad Mitchell said he would like to see the new commissioners, whose terms begin in December, create a policy for existing business expansion incentives.
Salisbury’s city council on Tuesday will also hear an incentives request for New Sarum Brewery. Van Geons said the request to Salisbury is slightly different and would result in a more immediate affect on New Sarum.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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