Commissioners allocate returned tax incentives to East Spencer college classes

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, August 2, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — County leaders aim to make the best of a manufacturing plant’s closure by investing returned tax incentive dollars into college classes for East Spencer residents.

Rowan County commissioners on Monday voted to allocate $48,295 toward N.C. Manufacturing Institute classes. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College currently offers the classes. With the returned tax incentive money from Tuscarora Yarns, however, the college will start offering classes in the Town of East Spencer, according to commissioners Chairman Greg Edds.

Edds said East Spencer was chosen by commissioners because of ongoing discussions to bring new businesses to the small town.

“It doesn’t do any good to have businesses come there if their folks can’t get the jobs,” he said.

Commissioners approved the investment in college classes following a closed-to-the-public portion of their meeting on Monday. Tuscarora received nearly $70,000 in tax incentive rebates from Rowan County and closed its China Grove plant earlier this year. According to an agreement with Rowan County, the company is only required to pay back $48,295. Rowan County will receive the full amount of tax incentives it’s eligible to have returned, County Attorney Jay Dees said.

Rowan County will receive its $48,295 in returned tax incentives in four equal payments over a period of four months. The first payment will come in September. East Spencer residents could benefit from the N.C. Manufacturing Institute classes as soon as October, according to Edds. The classes will likely be offered at East Spencer’s Town Hall. Participants won’t have to pay.

The N.C. Manufacturing Institute started in 2014 as a result of discussions among local leaders and organizations in Rowan and Cabarrus counties. It was a response to a lack of qualified employees and aims to train people for manufacturing jobs.

Companies that hire an employee through the N.C. Manufacturing Institute pay $1,000 into the program if the person stays with the company for a specified period of time. So far, every participant in the manufacturing institute has received a scholarship and graduated without paying for tuition, said Rowan Works Economic Development Director Robert Van Geons.

The $48,295 in returned tax incentives will serve as “seed money” for a program in East Spencer. Businesses will continue to pay $1,000 into the Manufacturing Institute as people graduate from the program in East Spencer.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the county, exciting for East Spencer and helps fulfill the mission of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and helps us fulfill our mission of developing a workforce and bringing economic development to the community,” Edds said. “So, this is a win, win. How many wins? Win, win, win, win, win for everybody.”

The Town of China Grove, where the now-shuttered Tuscarora facility is located, is also owed thousands of dollars in tax incentives from the company. Edds said the town’s officials and Rowan County were part of the same meeting in July to settle on an agreement for returning incentives. Dees said he expects China Grove to approve a similar repayment agreement — one spread over several months. It’s unclear what China Grove might do with its returned incentives.

Citing County Commissioner Craig Pierce, Dees said it’s important to treat a business well when it leaves a community. The four-month repayment aims to allow Tuscarora to operate other facilities without putting a significant financial strain on the business, Dees said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.