The Wilmington City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved economic incentives of up to $80,000 over five years to a Wilmington-based software development firm.
The city incentives, $16,000 a year for five years, would be contingent upon the financial technology firm, whose identity is being kept secret by officials for now, reaching the necessary milestones. The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved
an incentives package of up to $120,000 over the same period.
The company, which has 100 existing employees, plans to hire 104 employees who would be paid an average wage of at least $80,000.
"They're in a sector that we're working very hard – as mayor you know from sitting on our board – to encourage the financial technology development companies in our area and to grow these jobs," said Scott Satterfield, CEO of economic development agency Wilmington Business Development, as he addressed Mayor Bill Saffo and the rest of the City Council on Tuesday.
The company's growth plan is also in the running for state incentives.
"The state, we believe, will be participating as well as the community college system to encourage this," Satterfield said. "We've also had financial review by the state as they've considered this incentive package, and we believe we're endorsing a great company and a great opportunity for our community as we continue to grow."
Two city council members expressed the hope that the firm will hire local residents.
"When we talked earlier, you mentioned that this company is very interested in hiring people from Wilmington. I think that that might need to be said because oftentimes, when we bring these big high-tech companies in, they normally bring in their team but they may fill them in with people from outside," said Councilman Clifford Barnett to Satterfield. "And it's important, of course that they have their basic team, but it's important that we train folks to have the skills so that we can get people right here in Wilmington these great jobs."
Satterfield said his conversations with the company since it was founded in 2017 have indicated that "their preference is to hire locally. Their preference is to collaborate with the community college and the university and look for talent that they can find here."
Adding to the discussion, Councilman Kevin Spears said, "I think that's a big concern because we know we have some pretty big fintech companies around town and not saying that employers should not be choosy about who they employ. But we also know that people need opportunities; people need second chances. Heck, some people need third chances. ... Jobs are probably on the forefront for all of us as council members and as a municipality. I'm excited to see this thing happen, but I don't want some of the smaller things to get swept under the rug."
Officials have not said when the name of the company will officially be revealed or the potential state incentives announced.