Board of Commissioners approves $556,500 incentive grant for Daimler

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2018

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a second amendment to a five-year grant for Daimler Trucks North America.

The grant is for expansion at Freightliner’s Cleveland manufacturing plant, providing the company a 75 percent tax incentive for its $26 million capital investment.

“We’re looking at a $26 million investment in Rowan County and, of course, the opportunity to support one of our valuable, existing employers,” said Scott Shelton, vice president of operations with the Rowan County Economic Development Commission.

Shelton said the incentive agreement has been in the works since 2009, when the company proposed a $15.9 million investment in a new military truck line. A revaluation would put the company’s tax base lower than at the start of the grant term, meaning no incentive was ever paid for that project.

The agreement was amended in 2015 for the currently proposed logistics center, then valued as a $38 million investment. Construction was meant to be completed by Dec. 31, 2016, with the grant term beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

The start of construction was delayed, meaning Daimler would lose a year of funding if the grant went unamended.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve the amendment during Monday’s meeting, following comments from two Daimler executives: Henning Bruns, Freightliner’s head of operations, and David Trebing, Daimler’s state and local relations director.

The amendment moved the grant term to Jan. 1, 2018, allowing the company to capture the 75 percent tax incentive for $8 million the first year, then for $26 million in the following years: $39,750 and $129,188 per year, respectively.

For Bruns, the expansion is about much more than capital growth.

“When it comes to supporting the community, it’s not just about the people we employ …,” said Bruns. “It’s about the type of people we need. It’s about the qualification we need. I’m happy to see now after all three years of running the Cleveland truck plant that we have constantly invested into our people.”

Bruns said many people viewed the logistics center as “just another box with parts inside and warehouse activities.” But, he said, it will be the most modern logistics systems available on the market, leading to continual education for employees.

“The inside of it is somewhere where our employees can further grow and acquire knowledge, which is definitely a major investment in themselves also,” he said.

Trebing said Freightliner is a model company for Daimler.

“This is our shining star in the assembly world,” Trebing said. “We have 33 facilities here in the United States, and this is without a doubt building the best product and the most efficient product for the customer demand, and for what reason?  Because of the great working relationship we have with the county council and with Rod (Crider) and Scott and the economic development community.”