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Salisbury City Council narrows field of Fibrant suitors

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — In a closed session that lasted almost two hours, the City Council on Thursday narrowed to three the list of businesses interested in purchasing, leasing or managing Fibrant.

During a planning retreat, the Salisbury City Council discussed Fibrant-related proposals in closed session and afterward announced in an open session that it had narrowed the field of suitors.

City Manager Lane Bailey cited economic development-related protections in state law as a reason to decline to provide specifics about the proposals, including the names of the interested businesses.

In January, the council announced its intent to seek proposals to purchase, lease or manage Fibrant. Initially, the city asked businesses to submit a letter of intent and accept terms of mutual confidentiality and nondisclosure by Feb. 3. March 10 was the final deadline for proposals to be submitted.

Bailey said 14 businesses expressed interested in purchasing, leasing or managing Fibrant. Only six of the 14 submitted proposals. After Thursday’s closed session, the City Council will continue discussions with three businesses.

The council went into closed session just after 9:30 a.m. and ended it just before 11:30 a.m. At that time, Bailey announced the council’s intent to narrow the field of businesses.

Because of nondisclosure agreements, Bailey and Councilman David Post said, the city cannot talk specifically about the names or locations of the businesses interested in Fibrant. Bailey likened discussions about purchasing, leasing or managing Fibrant to economic development.

“It’s just like an industry coming to town,” Bailey said. “We’ve got a ways to go. We want to be as transparent as possible, but at this point we cannot reveal more.”

Bailey and Post said the proposals from businesses do not include final contract terms, such as a purchase price or lease amount. Proposals state that the terms are subject to change, according to Bailey and Post.

To narrow the list of three businesses to one, the City Council will create an advisory board of residents. That board will make a decision with council members’ advice. Meetings would be held in closed session, according to Bailey.

The city plans to solicit information for the advisory board.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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