Board OKs loan incentive

Jan. 07, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

Lee County Commissioners unanimously approved a $150,000 zero-interest loan for the New Jersey-based company Fitzpak Inc. to expand within the county Monday.

Economic development and business leaders spoke in favor of the loan during a public hearing held at 6 p.m. at the Lee County Government Center.

The company would create a $4 million investment in machinery and equipment and 50 jobs if it expanded within the county. The proposed location for the thermo-forming plastic packaging company would be housed at the Redman Building, located at 298 Harvey Faulk Road.

The Lee County location would house Fitzpak’s food division, according to Fitzpak’s President Andrew Fitzsimmons.

“I’d like to highlight, when we go to a place, we intend to stay,” he said, adding he expects the company to grow.  

Fitzpak has been an excellent corporate citizen in its other locations and it’s a great company for Lee County, said Economic Development Corporation Board Chairman Donnie Oldham.

“We needed a win, and this looks like a pretty good one,” he said.

Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce President Bob Joyce said the chamber’s board of directors were unanimously in support of this company, and said this was the type of company that can and does connect with larger companies and mom and pop shops.

“This will be a great fit,” Joyce said. “It’s a great company that’s similar to many here because they are family owned, innovative, very entrepreneurial and has a great reputation.”

Keith Clark, local political blogger and Central Carolina Community College trustee, spoke against the loan because, he said, it was “rammed through” without proper vetting by the public and that it violated the county’s economic incentive guidelines, which were approved this summer.

“You’re paying no attention to your own rules,” Clark said.

The economic incentives guidelines stated, among other items, that a new business must create an investment of more than $20 million and more than 25 jobs.

Commissioner Jim Womack argued the guidelines only apply to cash incentives and not the loan the commissioners approved Monday.

The city of Sanford will hold a public hearing on nearly $40,000 economic development grant for Fitzpak at 7 p.m. tonight at the Sanford Municipal Center, located at 225 E. Weatherspoon St.