New furniture company could bring 150 jobs

Jul. 15, 2014 @ 12:47 PM

A Florida-based furniture company is considering placing a manufacturing plant in Caldwell County, with perhaps 150 jobs over the next three years, county officials said Monday.

The company, identified only as “Project Gator,” is considering multiple sites in several states, Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, told the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners. It would invest $800,000 in property and equipment at the site it chooses.

The commissioners approved offering the company an incentive of $2,000 per job created, or up to $300,000. Murray said the jobs would have an average annual wage of $37,000, far above the county’s average wage.

Murray said the company wants a site that has a talented furniture workforce, and has “at least one other state putting together a very aggressive (recruiting) campaign.” 

The board also approved a resolution to serve as applicant on the company’s behalf for a One North Carolina Fund Grant, which would match any local incentives. 

In other business, the commissioners voted in favor of paying Automated Solutions, a Sawmills company, $2,000 per new job for an expansion that the company expects to create eight new full-time jobs at an average wage of $24,000 annually over the next year.

All county job incentives are payable only after the jobs are created.

Automated Solutions has more than doubled its workforce since opening in the county about three years ago, Richard Boyd, a partner in the company, said in a letter formally requesting the incentives.

The commissioners also set a public hearing Aug. 4 for incentives of $2,000 per job for Menlo Worldwide Logistics, a freight-shipping company that has operated a Lenoir facility for seven years that plans to up to six new jobs by the end of the year paying an average of $27,000 per year.

The board also approved extending by two years the time for Merchants Distributors Inc. to qualify for incentives on a $50 million expansion announced in late 2008. 

MDI, a wholesale grocery distributor, delayed portions of its expansion because of the recession and a road project nearby.

The incentives package the county approved in 2008 call for repaying the company 75 percent of the property taxes for 12 years on the new value created by the company’s expansion. The original agreement would have expired Dec. 31, so the extension applies the tax grant to new development through the end of 2016.