Talkin'Tville March 20
A resolution passed by the Davidson County Board of Commissioners has Thomasville residents talking.
Commissioners approved the purchase of 142 acres of land in the southern portion of the county during their March 12 meeting. The objective is to recruit a company which expressed interest in investing $24 million for a new plant and hiring 250 employees. To attract this company, commissioners approved a $2 million incentives package as part of a proposed lease agreement and purchase of land.
While in Thomasville earlier in the week, I spoke with a small business owner, a waitress at Tommy's Barbecue and an 86-year-old retiree of Serta Mattress, where he had been a superintendent. Others were willing to sound off on the issue, as well.
Some of the individuals with whom I spoke were interested in bringing new jobs to Davidson County, but not at the expense of the incentives. It was suggested the upfront cost was just the beginning, with one man alluding to attempts made by Forsyth County a few years ago to bring Dell to Kernersville. Dell opened shop in the Piedmont, but did not stay the duration of the agreement, and instead left the area — taking with it 900 jobs.
This cautionary tale lent itself to a question.
With the intent to add jobs, the county made a sizable commitment to pursue this company, only known as Project Plum. I talked with each person about how the commissioners’ decision would affect citizens. As we concluded our conversations, I asked: For an area desperately in need of additional employment opportunities, is the county’s investment worth the jobs? The answers vary.
Yes, it's worth it. Do you know what 250 jobs would mean to Davidson County right now? A lot. It's very important to the people, and it's more than that. From what I understand of it, I think it's a good deal all around for the county, for the county's people and for the jobs it will be. I think everything they're offering here is with wisdom.
— Danny Kennedy
Thomasville needs jobs. Unemployment is killer, and it's hurt everybody in this town. People have lost their houses, everything. It has really hurt this town. You can see it with (local) businesses. All you see in town are restaurants, gas stations and banks. You don't see industry anymore, and the ‘Little Man’ is really hurting.
— Belinda Smith
No, sir. They've already got buildings that people could move into; there are buildings everywhere — all kinds of buildings. They're talking about buying a piece of land down there with nothing on it. Ain't that something? They need to ride out here and see these empty buildings sitting around. Some of these buildings could house God knows what. Anywhere you look, any size for a company that wants to come in here. He could pick the size of the building and get a deal.
— Dickie Sebastian