Board goes after grant in bid to entice company

Apr. 09, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Specifics are sparse after Lee County Commissioners voted to apply for a state grant that could persuade a company — and an accompanying $13 million in new investment and more than 100 jobs — to locate to Lee County. The company has not yet been publicly identified.

After a closed session near the end of Monday’s meeting, commissioners voted, via resolution, to submit an application to the North Carolina Department of Commerce for the Building Reuse Grant Program, and, pending approval by all involved parties, to pay the 5 percent local match, not to exceed $25,000.

The local match is considered an incentive, according to the resolution, and at “the appropriate time” the company name will be announced, a public hearing held and a final vote will be held by the commissioners.

The resolution, which refers to the company as “Project Spring,” states “due to ongoing negotiations between the state and the company and the company’s site selection process, the (North Carolina) Department of Commerce has asked that the county not release the name of the company at this time.”

Lee County Interim Economic Development Director Crystal Morphis said the grant is intended to put vacant industrial buildings back into use, and this application was a good example of how local and state government can work together.

“Lee County is one of many sites (being considered by the company),” she said. “This project has been ongoing for several months, and it is a cooperative effort between Lee County and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.”

Lee County Manager John Crumpton said the county has successfully received this grant twice before, but said he couldn’t give any more information about the company other than it would be a “pretty big deal” for the county.

“We completed a pre-application and then made an application, and the resolution was the final piece to make it complete,” Crumpton said.

According to the approved resolution, the facility under consideration by Project Spring is “an ideal location for a Building Reuse Grant.”

Lee County Commissioner Chairman Charlie Parks noted that this process is still in its infant stages, but the commissioners were looking to support a company that would increase the tax base, hire locally and, overall, “create a better lifestyle for our population.”

A copy of the resolution is available online at www.sanfordherald.com.