Daimler’s Cleveland plant expanding, requesting tax incentives

Published 12:05 am Sunday, November 15, 2015

One of Rowan’s largest employers is asking county commissioners to extend a current tax incentive agreement to enable a multi-million dollar expansion.

Daimler North America’s Cleveland manufacturing plant, which produces Freightliner trucks, is preparing to spend nearly $38 million on a new vehicle logistics center. During Monday’s 6 p.m. meeting, county commissioners will consider extending a 5-year incentive agreement for the project. The 6 p.m. commissioners meeting will be at the Rowan County Administration Building on West Innes Street in Salisbury. Rowan Works Economic Development Director Robert Van Geons is scheduled to present an economic impact study before commissioners consider extending the incentive agreement.

County commissioners last approved a tax incentive agreement for the Cleveland plant in 2009, but the facility’s tax value didn’t increase enough to receive any tax breaks, according to Van Geons. Although the company made a multi-million dollar investment, Van Geons said depreciation of existing facilities and equipment prevented incentives from starting.

The Cleveland plant’s proposed logistics center meets the county’s level one tax incentive amount — $5 million — but doesn’t reach the level two amount — $50 million in money invested. If approved by commissioners, the incentives would last until 2023.

With the proposed incentive agreement, Rowan County would provide tax incentives of about $189,000 per year, leaving the county with about $63,000 per year in tax revenue from the project. During the entire five-year period of incentives, Rowan County would keep about $314,000 in new tax revenue and give $942,820 in tax incentives to the Cleveland plant. Van Geons’ economic impact study doesn’t account for fluctuations in the county’s property tax rate.

Tax value appears to be the most significant, immediate benefit to Rowan. The expansion won’t come with any added jobs, according to the economic impact study. However, the company will increase its minimum job retention requirement from 695 to 1,500. The plant now employs more than 2,800 people.

The job figures make the Daimler plant the largest manufacturing employer in Rowan. It’s the third largest employer of any organization. Food Lion and the Rowan-Salisbury School System are the two largest employers, according to RowanWorks Economic Development estimates.

Other items on Monday’s agenda include:

• A rezoning in the Liberty community for a Dollar General store

The rezoning last came up during an August Planning Board meeting, where 18 people spoke in opposition to the proposal. During the meeting, attendees filled the county’s largest meeting room. The crowd of attendees became raucous at times, applauding those who opposed the rezoning.

Rowan County’s Planning Board agreed with the raucous crowd and denied the rezoning. Concerns ranged from an increase in traffic accidents to sex offenders hanging around the Dollar General because its close to the elementary school.

If approved, the rezoning would change a plot of land near Morgan Elementary School from rural agricultural to the county’s commercial, business and industrial classification. A Dollar General is proposed for the site.

Rowan County intentionally delayed the rezoning for several meetings to allow people to attend Monday’s 6 p.m. meeting, according to county officials.

Rowan County Senior Planner Shane Stewart said the Planning Department hasn’t received any additional comments from nearby residents since the August meeting.

• Presentations to the Rowan County Board of commissioners from firms vying to complete at Parks master plan.

Seven total firms expressed interest in overseeing work on a master plan for Rowan. County staff picked three firms from Charlotte to present to county commissioners. The firms include Benesch, Land Design and McAdams.

• County commissioners will receive a financial report for the fiscal year to date.

Graphs included in Monday’s agenda appear to show tax revenue increased slightly over the prior year. County expenditures appear to be the same or slightly more than the prior year.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.