Thomasville approves economic incentives

Project Hem, Project Z13 - Still a secret
Jul. 19, 2013 @ 10:28 AM

City Council approved a pair of economic incentives Monday night that could bring more than more 40 jobs to Thomasville.

Council members unanimously voted in favor of offering incentive packages to a pair of unnamed companies looking to invest in the Chair City. Project Hem and Project Z13 would receive a total of $61,000 from the two economic development incentives that are based on the company’s ability to create jobs and invest in the community.

Project Hem, a merger of two companies with a proposed $2.3 million investment, would create 30 jobs and receive a five-year grant not to exceed $6,440 a year. Project Z13, an injections molding firm approved to receive $6,160 annually for five years, has plans to invest $2.2 million and create 11 jobs with an average yearly salary of $50,000.

"We've been working Project Z13 for five months or so," Steve Googe, executive of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission, said to council members during a public hearing. "They have proposed to provide 11 jobs with additional jobs to follow. I would submit to [council] the projects would stimulate the economy, increase the county's tax base and thus increase tax revenue."

Davidson County Commissioners in May approved similar incentives for the two projects.  

Councilman Joel Pierce made a request for a non-disclosure agreement in order to learn the names of companies that may receive incentives. 

"I would like to know that if someone is coming to Thomasville and wanting us to give them the grant I would know what business that is," said Pierce. "I think it's important."

Googe said the EDC reserves the right under state law to withhold that information in order to prevent jeopardizing any potential agreements with companies seeking to invest in the area. Googe said the EDC will start providing elected officials non-disclosure agreements when projects are presented to them in closed session.    

"We are trying to be as positive as we can with economic development and still follow the General Statutes of the state of North Carolina," Googe said. "It's very clear in [General Statue 132] that we have the right to maintain the privacy of the company's name until an agreement is put in place by both parties. We feel that disclosing that name would jeopardize the location of the company. We're more than happy to provide [non-disclosure agreements] to city council if the city council would prefer it." 

As an elected official, Pierce, who would not be able to disclose any such information revealed to him in closed session, feels he deserves the right to know more about these companies. 

"We just voted on giving a grant that we did know who the company was," Pierce said. " I think the citizens elect me to know what's going on. I think the people need to know as much as possible. I've got a top-secret security clearance with the National Guard. I think the people elect folks to be representatives of theirs. Mr. Googe was not elected and I think that information needs to go to elected officials." 

County Commissioner Todd Yates in May told Googe he would not approve any projects for unnamed companies and also asked for non-disclosure agreements in the future.

 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.