Opinion: Daily Journal

Backroads, byways, boondoggles, and brouhahas

CJ graphic by Greg DeDeugd
CJ graphic by Greg DeDeugd

What follows is the first of an occasional column — taken from news sources throughout North Carolina — highlighting how government spends our money and makes other questionable moves about which state residents may not be aware.

Reidsville in Rockingham County, like much of that region, has lost much over the past several decades. Tobacco and cigarettes, textiles … gun makers, probably.

Thank goodness for wet wipes.

As The Associated Press reported, an Israeli-based maker of wet wipes and feminine hygiene products wants to more than double its employment in the small town near the Virginia border. Albaad Holdings plans to create 300 jobs by 2022 in Reidsville, on top of 225 people already making wipes and running a distribution center there. A state Commerce Department document says the new facility would produce pads and panty liners and handle some current distribution duties.

Business is good, yet public officials can’t help but help.

A state committee has approved proposed incentives that could reach $3.7 million if Albaad meets job and investment thresholds, the AP says. Average salaries for the new jobs are around $38,000.

This is a profitable company, so what about Remington, the gun maker headquartered in Madison that got some hefty incentives and just recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Greensboro, which borders Rockingham County to the south, made headlines in March when, writes the News & Record, it offered up to $17 million to the Publix grocery chain if it builds a $400 million distribution center there and hires 1,000 people.

Grocery stores aren’t scarce is Greensboro, and Harris Teeter recently announced it will close one of its dozens of stores in the Triad.

Here’s a partial list from a story in the Greensboro paper:

  • City research compiled for the News & Record shows that the total amount of incentives during those three years was about $9.3 million toward about 30 business expansions and programs that run the gamut from new manufacturing plants to the National Folk Festival.
  • HAECO, for example, announced in 2016 it would build a $75 million hangar and hire at least 400 people. The city granted $400,000 to be paid after the aircraft maintenance company pays taxes on the expansion and hits job targets. Likewise, the promise of $544,000 to Qorvo came in 2015 after it pledged to spend $25 million for an expansion and hire 100 people to work in its microchip operation.
  • Natty Greene’s brewery got $387,500 late last year for construction of an expansion facility at Revolution Mill. Projected investment: $14.2 million and 27 new jobs.
  • The Piedmont Triad International Airport saw a grant of $2.5 million on Feb. 2, 2016, to assist with industrial site readiness for the land that will be connected by the taxiway bridge under construction. Piedmont Triad Film Commission got $35,000 for film industry recruitment services.

Here’s more. “A Swiss company that makes plastic and foil tubes for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries will make Wilson the site of its North American headquarters and first U.S. manufacturing plant,” reports WRAL. Neopac US Inc. plans to invest $30.8 million in the operation at Wilson Corporate Park and create 44 jobs.

The caveat?

State officials approved a grant of $300,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment, and awards are contingent on getting local matching money. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job and investment targets to qualify for payment. The money typically comes, anyway.

In High Point, writes the Triad Business Journal, an undisclosed company is considering two sites for a two-phase project — an investment of $82 million and 201 full-time jobs.

“The city will consider $1.171 million in incentives and the county is considering up to $990,000 in incentives, both subject to investment and job creation criteria.”

For exactly what is unclear.

Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corp., told TBJ details on the project would probably be released by April 16.