Wilmington is one of the cities that Charlotte-based National Gypsum Co. is looking at nationwide to reopen one of its former facilities, company officials said Wednesday.
National Gypsum, a national manufacturer of drywall and other related building products, is considering opening its old manufacturing facility off Sunnyvale Drive in Wilmington as part of a national search, said company spokeswoman Nancy Spurlock.
“We are looking at other locations, and we are considering reopening Wilmington,” Spurlock said. “Our business is better now. We experienced a short decline in business when the housing bubble collapsed in 2002. And in 2008, the recession began nationally and business just got worse. So we had to dial back our production. So we idled the Wilmington plant.”
Operations closed at the Wilmington plant in 2009, she said.
When asked about the reopening of one of its former facilities, Spurlock said, “We are trying to meet customer demand.” Wilmington is in the running with "a couple of sites" in the nation, she said.
According to the company's website, National Gypsum currently has more than 40 operating plants, mines, quarries and support facilities throughout the country and Canada.
To attract the business back to the area, New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington are considering offering incentives.
The county is considering entering into an incentive agreement with the company that would result in incentives of up to $350,000 over five years in annual payments of $70,000 to “reopen, refurbish and operate the existing Gypsum facility," county officials stated in the notice of a public hearing scheduled for Feb. 19 about the proposal.
The source of the funding would come from the county’s general fund, according to the document.
“Hopefully it will be the right kind of encouragement that will have them pick up where they left off and bring those jobs back to us,” New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple said, adding that the county has aligned the incentive through a formula that weighs the benefits in jobs, tax base and other benefits the business would bring to the county.
The incentive is part of a package, that could include about $230,000 from the city, according to Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development.
The county document states the company would create 51 new jobs with average salaries of at least $57,000 and spend a minimum capital investment of $25 million.
“Our economic development point person with WBD (Wilmington Business Development) has assured us that these [incentives] are competitive and the company is considering similar opportunities in Florida and New York,” New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Woody White said. “And so we believe that they are competitive, and we hope that will result in this company bringing these 51 jobs and increased equipment that they would commit to.”
Spurlock declined to name other cities in the company's search.
New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said, “To bring back a company that we had here before, and to bring in jobs that are paying more than $50,000 a year, plus benefits – to me, will be phenomenal.”
Barfield recognized that the county is “competing with other cities” and has no guarantee that the company will open here. But said the county is “trying to put our best foot forward, and knowing they already have had activity here – I think will make it a lot easier.”
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that the National Gypsum plant in Wilmington ceased production in January 2009.