Economic Development Agencies, Incentives Included In Local Budgets

By Cece Nunn, posted Jun 6, 2016
City and county officials are discussing budgets for the next fiscal year in meetings this week, and the recommended budgets set aside funding to economic development agencies and for incentives to existing local companies.

New Hanover County is scheduled to hold a required public hearing during its 4 p.m. meeting Monday in Room 301 at the historic New Hanover County Courthouse, 24 N. Third St., on the economic development and economic incentive funds included in next fiscal year’s recommended budget.

“Economic development remains a strategic priority; however, the recommended budget primarily supports and maintains what the [County Board of Commissioners] has initiated over the past 36 months,” says a letter that accompanied the recommended budget.

The companies that could receive incentives from the county in the next fiscal year, if the recommended amounts are adopted and the firms meet contractual job and/or infrastructure commitments, are Alcami (up to $55,000), CastleBranch Corp. (up to $50,000), Fortron (up to $100,000), GE (up to $175,000), Live Oak Bank (up to $65,000) and PPD (up to $300,000).

Since 2014, the county has paid incentives in the amounts of $50,000 to CastleBranch, $200,000 to Fortron, $525,000 to GE, $65,000 to Live Oak Bank and $844,650 to PPD, according to a breakdown provided by New Hanover officials.

In addition to incentives to local companies, the recommended budget also proposes funding for agencies that promote jobs and industries in the county.
Proposed county funding in 2016-17 budget for economic development agencies
Foreign Trade Promotion Council 1 payment, focused on building sustainable jobs within the Southeastern N.C. region $2,500
The Southeastern Partnership 2 payments, regional and targeted industry specific marketing, conducting familiarization events for site consultants $20,000
Wilmington Business Development 4 payments, recruitment/assistance for business expansion and or relocation efforts;  $193,093
Wilmington Downtown Inc. 2 payments, activities to increase the number of businesses, jobs and tax base in Wilmington's urban core $65,000
Wilmington Film Commission 4 payments, promote/assist TV & film production activities to drive local entertainment business growth, support local production infrastructure and businesses $145,920
Cape Fear Council of Governments 2 payments, membership fees, local government services and transportation planning, workforce investment $36,648
Southeastern Economic Development Partnership 1 payment, assist project development necessary for the solicitation of grant funding from the Economic Development Administration $18,240

The county's public hearing on economic development spending will also allow the public to comment on a capital project investment of $14.6 million to pay for the construction of water and sewer lines along U.S. 421, the site of some of the only available industrial land in the county, from the Isabel Holmes Bridge to the Pender County line. The script for Monday's public hearing says the source of funding for the project would be loan proceeds and/or grants and/or the county's general fund.

At its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Wilmington City Council is expected to take its first vote on the city's recommended 2016-17 budget. The council is expected to adopt the budget at its June 21 meeting.

Under the city's proposed payments to civic development partners, Wilmington Business Development would receive $100,000; Wilmington Downtown Inc., $86,000; and the Wilmington Film Commission, $121,890. In the economic incentives portion of the document, PPD would get $125,000; CastleBranch, $50,000; Live Oak Bank, $50,000; and Alcami, $50,000.
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