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County commissioners approve tax incentive request for industrial products distributor

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County commissioners on Monday approved a tax incentive request for an industrial production distribution company seeking to expand and acquire a local employer’s facility.

The unnamed company behind what’s known as “Project Gauge” plans to retain the 40 current employees at the facility and create 46 new jobs over the next four years. The company also estimates that it will invest approximately $5.1 million in building improvements and new equipment.

Commissioners heard a presentation from Rowan Economic Development Vice President Scott Shelton during a virtual commissioners meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday. No one spoke during the public comment period or submitted public comments before the meeting to be considered.

The commissioners agreed to award a level one tax incentive grant as a show of support for the project. Grant requests are determined by a designated percentage level for five consecutive years based on the amount the company plans to invest. This company’s grant request is $5 million, with 75% of the paid taxes returned as a grant. The company must pay its taxes in full each year based on the actual tax value of the property or investment to be eligible to receive the grant.

To secure its supply chain, the company behind “Project Gauge” has decided to branch out into manufacturing by acquiring the production facility of one of its suppliers. One of the facilities under consideration is located in Rowan County. A manufacturing facility in Ohio is also under consideration. The Ohio site is the primary competition for the project.

Shelton said in the meeting that Ohio’s building is “in better shape,” but that the company is impressed with Rowan County’s workforce.

Commissioners asked about the proposed average wages for employees. Shelton said the EDC was told the average salary was at least $44,000 per year, with $39,000 per year being the lowest wage. About half of the workforce will be production employees.

The company is also eligible for a similar grant from the City of Salisbury, but Monday’s presentation stated the company will likely wait until later this summer to submit its request to the city. Delaying the request could allow the company to become eligible for a Rural Building Reuse Grant from the state.

Shelton said the company intends to make a final decision by mid-August. If Rowan County is chosen, Project Gauge expects that the majority of construction and equipment installation will be complete by Dec. 31, 2021, with additional improvements over the following three years.

Prior to the start of the meeting, commissioners announced that Mike Caskey had been deployed with the National Guard, but he was still present for the meeting. Caskey said he is deployed to a location in North Carolina until May 20.

In other business discussed at the meeting:

  • A public hearing was scheduled for May 4 to consider financing technology, flooring repairs and renovations at Kannapolis City Schools in the amount of $1 million, as well as financing the construction of a concession stand at Dan Nicholas Park in the amount of $600,000. If approved following the public hearings, the financing would be considered by the Local Government Commission in June.
  • Commissioners struck from the agenda and postponed a presentation of the findings and efforts to enhance Rowan County’s development review, permitting and inspection processes. The Matrix Consulting Group was recruited to assess the county departments’ organizational structure, staffing level and service delivery. The improvements are being led by newly appointed Assistant Manager Randy Cress, who is also the Chief Information Officer for the county. Commissioners said they wanted to wait and meet in-person for that discussion.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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