Commissioners, China Grove Town Council approve tax incentives for 1,000-job project

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2021

CHINA GROVE — Less than a day after county commissioners approved a tax incentive deal for a major economic development project, the China Grove Town Council followed suit on Tuesday afternoon.

Both of the separate incentive deals are for “Project Bishop.” The company behind the codename is an unnamed online retailer planning a new e-commerce fulfillment center in the greater Charlotte region, with southern Rowan County being a potential destination.

If Rowan County is chosen for the project, the company would create 1,000 new jobs in the next three years. Approximately 900 of these new jobs would be fulfillment-related positions. The remaining jobs would be supervisory and administrative positions. The average yearly wages of the jobs created by Project Bishop would likely be at or above the Rowan County average of $44,000, Rowan Economic Development council Vice President Scott Shelton said.

The company behind “Project Bishop” would invest approximately $400 million in construction of a new facility and the installation of major equipment. The majority of those improvements would be finished by early 2024.

In addition to direct jobs created by the project, Shelton said the Rowan EDC estimates “Project Bishop” would lead to an additional 238 indirect and induced jobs, generating about $12 million in employee wages and benefits. The gross revenue for the companies creating those 238 indirect and induced jobs would be approximately $30 million.

China Grove Mayor Charles Seaford pointed to the number of jobs, both direct and indirect, as one of the main reasons why the council approved the incentive deal.

“It’s going to bring 1,000 people in or near China Grove,” Seaford said. “That means on the way home they’re going to be stopping at Food Lion, stopping at some of the restaurants here, taking food home or coming in to eat food. The intangibles are probably going to be as much as the tangible benefits we’re going to get from it.”

The incentive approved by the town council is a three-year investment grant, 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. Over the first two incentivized years, the town would net $1.3 million in revenue. In the final year of the agreement, it would net $1.2 million in revenue. Over a 10-year period, the town would receive $10.9 million in tax revenue.

“It’s going to be a good booster shot for China Grove. Our tax base is on the residents in China Grove and houses in China Grove,” Seaford said. “We have very little industry in China Grove. This would be a great big industrial growth for China Grove, which is something a long time coming, that we would have something to shore up our tax base with.”

The town council’s grant will be an additional sweetener to the nine-year incentive grant approved by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday night. The county’s grant would return 80% of new taxes paid by the company in the first five years, 40% of new paid taxes in years six and seven and 25% of new paid taxes in the final two years. The incentive deal would give the company an additional $1.39 million compared to the standard grant for a project with similar job creation and investment totals. Over 10 years, Rowan County could expect to receive about $6.3 million in net revenue from the project.

Commissioners also waived a $2,500 fee for expedited local permitting review.

The incentive deal approved by the county is similar to what commissioners offered Chewy when the online pet retailer built a fulfillment center in Rowan County. Chewy initially intended to hire 1,200 employees, but has surpassed that job creation goal.

When the commissioners passed the incentive deal for “Project Bishop,” Chairman Greg Edds thanked Chewy for having “broken the seal on the county lines.” Edds said the potential new project would be great for the county and its tax base.

The Rowan EDC is working with the state of North Carolina to land the company behind “Project Bishop” a Job Development Investment Grant. 

The company appears to be considering a site marketed as the 85 North Logistics Center for its e-commerce operation. The center, which will be located just off exit 68, not far from Carson High School, is being planned by The Silverman Group. The China Grove Town Council is scheduled to hear a request for an annexation of the land at its December meeting.

It could be Christmas-come-late for China Grove and Rowan County, since Shelton told the council that he expects a decision on “Project Bishop” to come shortly after the holiday season.