Tweaks recommended to county incentives policy

Jan. 10, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners's economic incentive policy became the focus of discussion during the presentation of the Convergent Nonprofit Solutions Fundraising Feasibility Study at the Thursday Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity meeting.

If the commissioners' guidelines — a policy that critics claim is noncompetitive — are not changed, then it is likely, according to Convergent Principal Rick Kiernan, that the new economic development group may only raise $400,000 to $500,000 of the $1.25 million needed for its current program of work. If the guidelines are adjusted, he speculated, more than $1 million could be garnered.

Referencing those findings, interim EDC Director Crystal Morphis wrote a memo to the Partnership for Prosperity steering committee with five recommended changes to the Lee County policy.

 

Competition Clause

Current Clause: No incentive will be given to a business unless Lee County is competing with a jurisdiction outside the state of North Carolina.

Recommendation: To be considered, projects must be competitive with other jurisdictions, allowing for competition within and outside the state.


In-State Expansion Clause

Current Clause: No incentive will be offered to any business presently operating in another county of North Carolina for the exclusive purpose of recruiting that business to relocate to Lee County. 

Recommendation: "Keep the clause but add: Companies expanding due to facility obsolesce will be considered."


Existing Business Competition Clause

Current Clause: No incentive will be given if the new business would directly compete for market share with an existing business within the county.

Recommendation: The impact of the new entity, positive or negative, on current businesses will be considered by the commissioners.


Jobs Threshold

Current Clause: A new or expanding company must create 25 new jobs to qualify for an incentive.

Recommendation: A new or expanding company must create new jobs in Lee County, thus allowing companies to expand using technology with minimal job creation.


Investment Threshold

Current Clause: A new business must create $20 million in new investment, and an existing business must create $10 million in new investment, to be considered for an incentive.

Recommendation: A new business must create at least $2 million in new investment, and an existing business must create $1 million in new investment. This would make Lee County more competitively in line with its neighbors and the North Carolina average incentive threshold.