SANFORD COUNCIL: City may support Frontier Spinning with incentives

May. 07, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Under a proposal pitched to the Sanford City Council Tuesday night, the city would provide economic incentives — up to $456,548 over a five-year period — in support of a development project for a large-scale producer of spun yarns headquartered in Sanford.

The city is considering the proposal to help cover costs of new machinery and equipment for Frontier Spinning Mills, located on Boone Trail Road.

Crystal Morphis, Lee County interim economic development director, spoke in favor of the investment, saying that Frontier's expansion would prove a great benefit to the community. The firm would invest $33 million in the project.

"The majority of investment in a community comes from existing businesses," she said. "I'm always pleased to see ... investment from an existing company to expand in this community."

Morphis added that Frontier had been compliant concerning all previous grant and incentive agreements with the city, the county and the state, and had exceeded all performance requirements.

George Parker, president of Frontier Marketing, emphasized that the city's investment would create 11 new jobs in Sanford. He said that Frontier has created more than 100 jobs in Sanford since 2007. According to Parker, 500 of Frontier's 1,100 employees are located in Sanford.

"In 2013, we completed a $12 million expansion, created 24 jobs and did not seek any incentives from the city or county," he said. "We are in a very competitive industry, but we've managed to succeed nonetheless."

Parker attributed a large portion of that success to the company's relationship with Sanford.

Morphis echoed the need for the manufacturing jobs the investment would bring. She said manufacturing jobs constitute a big chunk of Sanford's economy, and they have been slow to return even as the recession has ebbed.

The council had no qualms about acknowledging Sanford's revenue problems. Councilman Jimmy Haire noted that the city's sales tax revenue was about $1.2 million less in 2013 than it had been in 2012.

"Just to make up what was lost," he said, "you'd have to go up on taxes 4 to 5 cents just to be where you were."

City Manager Hal Hegwer agreed, noting that there are now 10 positions in next year's budget that won't be filled due to funding issues.

Mayor Chet Mann said, "We've got some hard decisions to make in the next couple of weeks. But in my mind, they are fairly cut and dry. We have a revenue issue in the city and the county. We need to grow revenue."

Hegwer stated that he would be proposing a budget at the council's next meeting on May 20.

In other business, the council:

* Passed a resolution to name a portion of Highway 421 the "Don Buie Highway."

* Proclaimed the week of May 18-24 "Public Works Week."

* Approved renewal of a contract for inmate labor with the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

* Approved an ordinance prohibiting "thru truck traffic" on Canterbury Road and a portion of Piedmont Drive.