EDC proposes revisions to incentive policy

Published 12:04 am Sunday, April 23, 2023

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Economic Development Council has proposed a revision to its incentive policy in hopes of continuing to attract new businesses while also trying to retain more money for the county.

The current incentive policy was adopted in 2005 and has a primary focus on the amount of new investment a business brings to the county and has established minimum amounts of new investment to determine eligibility for grant levels.

  • A level one grant is given to a business that has a minimum taxable investment of $5 million.
  • A level two grant is given to a business that has a minimum taxable investment of $50 million.
  • A level three grant is given to a business that has a minimum taxable investment of $100 million.

Instead of basing the grant off of the investment amount, the proposed new incentive policy will now give out grants based on a scoring system, which would weigh the following factors:

  • Investment amount
  • Number of new jobs created
  • Average salary of the new jobs
  • If the employer pays 50 percent of employee health insurance coverage
  • Industry sector

If you are an existing company in the county and wanting to expand, you would also be eligible to receive a point.

Another change in the proposed incentive policy will be a reduction in how much money the county gives out in grants. The current policy’s maximum grant level is 85 percent, while the proposed policy’s maximum is 50 percent. This will allow for the county to retain more money.

“We thought it was a good time to lower the percentages and the reasoning for that is that right now Rowan County is starting to experience growth at a higher level than previous years,” said Scott Shelton, the vice president of the EDC. “With that new growth comes new demand on services for the county — schools, sheriff’s department, things like that. So we felt we needed to shift to a lower grant threshold to allow for the county to garner more tax revenue to pay for these services they are going to have to provide as a result of this new growth.”

Shelton said that both the EDC and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners thought it was a good time to try out the proposed policy, but if it doesn’t work out they can always revisit it. But he said the county is “one of the hot properties in the Charlotte region right now, so we just thought the time was right for that change.”

“No policy is perfect and there might be some minor tweaks along the way as we get into this or we may decide we need to go back to the prior policy,” Shelton said. “For now we just want to see how this works and we think we’re in a good position because we have a lot to offer businesses, it’s a strong business climate.”

Here’s an example of how the proposed point-based policy would work:

Let’s say an advanced manufacturing company proposes to invest 6$ million into the construction of its first facility in the county. Based on the factors, the company would earn the following points:

  • Being an advanced manufacturer would earn them one point.
  • A $60 million investment would earn them two points.
  • If the company creates 100 new jobs they would earn one point.
  • If the average salary of the new jobs is above $50,000 they would earn one point.
  • If the company pays 50 percent of employees’ monthly health insurance premium it would earn one point.

In total, the company would earn six points. That would make them eligible for a level two grant, which means they would be able to receive a 45 percent return on the property taxes paid. Say the business paid $100,000 in property taxes, they would see a grant return of $45,000 over time.