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4 Economic Incentive Packages, $2.6M Under Consideration

By Johanna F. Still, posted Feb 15, 2022

The city of Wilmington and New Hanover County will consider making separate economic incentive contributions for four undisclosed companies. Combined, the local governments could commit to $2.6 million to aid the projects in bringing 1,064 new jobs to the region.

Though the items appeared on the city’s agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting, Wilmington city manager Tony Caudle asked council members at the Monday agenda review meeting to continue each public hearing for two weeks. The items will remain open until the council convenes for its next regular meeting when “administrative issues” are anticipated to be worked out.

Caudle told the council that by then, “we should have actual job numbers.” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said the state of North Carolina will also make a contribution to these projects.

A city spokesperson said the city received updated numbers from the state after the initial public hearing notice was published. "While the updated numbers are reflected in the council documents, we’ll be re-advertising the public hearing for March 1 with the correct numbers to ensure compliance with state’s public notice law," the spokesperson wrote in an email Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the state did not confirm its involvement in the deals.

“While we talk to many companies about their site location strategies and the advantages of doing business in North Carolina, we don't discuss those conversations nor share any documentation until such time as the organization makes a public announcement of their site decision,” an N.C. Department of Commerce spokesperson wrote in an email Tuesday.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will consider its portion of incentives at its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 21, according to a county spokesperson. 

Projects “Clear,” “Buckeye” and “Transit” appear to be expansions of existing businesses; memos for each incentive package note the grant is “competitively necessary” to encourage the expansion of the business in Wilmington. The memo for “Project Speed” indicates the grant is “competitively necessary to encourage the location” of the business in Wilmington. The resolutions for each refer to the businesses' plans to expand operations at their existing facilities.

Here’s a rundown of the four packages, contingent upon the companies meeting certain goals, according to city documents: 

Project Transit: This business will hire at least 300 people at an average salary of $62,000. The memo for this item does not reference an investment in real and personal property.

The city will pay the company $40,000 a year, totaling $200,000 over a five-year period. The county will pay $60,000 annually totaling $300,000.

In all, this project is eligible for $500,000 in grant funds through the city and county.

Project Clear: This business will hire at least 485 people at an average salary of $131,000 and invest at least $85 million in real and personal property “in the region.”

The city will pay the company $50,000 annually, totaling $250,000 over a five-year period. The county will pay a maximum of $250,000 annually with a total contribution of $1.25 million after five years.

Combined, the company could receive as much as $1.5 million from the city and county.

Project Buckeye: This business will provide at least 204 jobs with an average wage of at least $113,000 and will invest at least $25 million in real and personal property in the city. 

The city will invest $40,000 annually over five years, totaling $200,000. The county will contribute $60,000 annually or $300,000 over a five-year period. 

Together, the city and county will contribute as much as $500,000 to the company over five years. 

Project Speed: This company will hire 75 jobs with an average salary of $64,000 and invest at least $16 million in real and personal property. 

The city will pitch in $9,000 annually over a five-year term, totaling $45,000. The county will contribute up to $13,500 annually, or $67,500 in all. 

After five years, the company could receive up to $112,500 from both the city and county. 

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