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Commissioners add $100,000 to incentives for ‘Project Wheel’

SALISBURY — Stakes were raised on Tuesday as officials spoke of luring “Project Wheel” to Rowan County.

The project is an expansion of a yet-to-be-named Rowan County employer. Its parent company has offices in over 24 countries.

Scott Shelton with the Rowan Economic Development Commission said the company has been a Rowan employer for decades. It is looking at Rowan County as a location to reorganize, improve quality, reduce costs and expand.

Two other locations are up for consideration in Indiana and Kentucky.

But, if Rowan is not selected, some 25 jobs in the county could be lost.

The Economic Development Commission therein sought an additional $100,000 grant from Rowan County’s economic development funds.

Shelton presented the request to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday. In the end, commissioners approved the request, offering $100,000 in grant funding.

The grant will be structured as a loan, forgiven in 20 percent increments as the company meets and maintains job levels.

The company’s expansion will lead to $11 million in capital investment through a 100,000-square-foot facility and what Shelton called “trade-specific equipment.”

The larger facility will come with 94 new jobs, with 79 of these being entry-level, assembly positions.

Starting pay for these positions will be $13 an hour.

“That will fulfill a real need we have in our community for entry level jobs paying an above-average wage,” said Shelton.

Other positions include supervisors, customer service representatives, quality managers, engineers and more.

Additional pressure to make the request came as officials obtained information about offerings from competitors.

“We actually got some information about what one of our competitors is offering, which is very rare for a project like this,” said Shelton. “But, we feel that … one community in Kentucky is making a very strong push for this project.”

In Rowan County, “Project Wheel” is considering two sites: Summit Corporate Center and Granite Industrial Park.

Incentives for a North Carolina-based relocation continue to grow. As of last Friday, the state is also offering incentives for the parent company.

Greg Edds said N.C. Reps. Harry Warren and Carl Ford lobbied for this financial backing in Raleigh.

“Without state support on this, we’re out of the game,” he said.

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