China Grove Town Council schedules tax incentive hearing for 1,000-job project

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2021

CHINA GROVE — The Town Council on Tuesday night scheduled a public hearing regarding an incentive request for “Project Bishop.”

The company behind the economic development project is considering a site in the China Grove area for a new facility. If the town is chosen, the project would create 1,000 jobs over the next four years and invest approximately $400 million in new construction and equipment. The council voted to hold the hearing on Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. at Town Hall.

“I think this is going to be good for the people of China Grove because we need more than just the taxes we get from our residents and that’s what we’ve got right now trying to keep afloat with that,” Mayor Charles Seaford said. “We need an industrial base.”

The company is requesting a three-year investment grant from China Grove, which would have the town return 50% of new taxes paid in the first two years and 40% of new taxes paid in the third year. Details about the business seeking to set up shot in China Grove weren’t provided Wednesday.

“I don’t look at it as us giving up anything,” Seaford said. “We just get a little bit now and then we’re going to get a lot more in three years from now.”

Seaford said the project would result in an influx of people moving to China Grove, or at least shopping in the town’s stores and eating in its restaurants.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners also will hold a hearing on Nov. 15 regarding a separate incentive package it is considering granting the company. 

“We’re trying to put together a strong incentive package for the project because we feel like it could have a tremendous impact on the county,” said Scott Shelton, vice president of the Rowan Economic Development Council.

In addition to deals from Rowan County and China Grove, Shelton said the Rowan EDC is working with the state on other potential incentives for the project.

While Shelton said he could not identify the exact location of the project, he said that the land is not currently located in China Grove limits. The owners of the land, Shelton said, would have to submit an application to the town for annexation. That would allow the company to benefit from municipal infrastructure and service.

To that end, the Town Council on Tuesday night scheduled a public hearing for its meeting on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. about the annexation of almost 200 acres of land off exit 68, near Carson High School. The Silverman Group has plans to construct what’s being called the 85 North Logistics Center on the property.

A brochure for the center indicates it will have both a 1.4 million-square-foot facility and a smaller, 414,000-square-foot building. Between the two buildings, the site is planned to feature about 1,000 trailer parking spaces, 840 car parking spots and 300 dock doors.

Along with setting a hearing on the incentive package, the Town Council officially welcomed new Finance Director Tara Dropp. The finance director is responsible for providing financial information, payroll services and the administration of all other financial affairs of the town. Additionally, the director is responsible for preparing and overseeing the town’s budget, which is currently $4.08 million.

Dropp previously served as finance director for the town of Sunset Beach.

“In her past role, one of the things she’s done has been grant writing and stuff like that, so I think she’s going to bring some things to the town that we haven’t had before,” Seaford said. 

Dropp will assume the position following the departure of Dean Luebbe, who served in the role for just over a year. Luebbe was hired in fall 2020 after longtime director Mary Jo Bopp retired. Town Manager Ken Deal said Luebbe left to take a position closer to home in western North Carolina.

Deal said finance director candidates are scarce right now and that the town was fortunate to hire Dropp.