City Council joins county commissioners in approving $500K incentive for AAIPharma

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Mayor Bill Saffor, County Commissioner Chairman Jonathan Barfield Jr., and County Commissioner Beth Dawson during an economic update meeting earlier this year.
Mayor Bill Saffo, County Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield Jr., and County Commissioner Beth Dawson during an economic update meeting earlier this year. Photo courtesy New Hanover County.

Wilmington City Council on Tuesday approved an industrial investment grant with AAIPharma for $45,000 per year for five years that will send $225,000 to the pharmaceutical company in exchange for a promise to invest $20 million at its Wilmington location.

Council’s unanimous decision came a day after New Hanover County Commissioners approved a similar grant. Combined, AAIPharma will receive $500,000 in local incentive money.

“The public might think we’re just handing out a check to AAIpharma today, but we’re not,” said Councilman Neil Anderson. “It’s an investment that we’re making with some real metrics.”

In a presentation to council members, Scott Satterfield of Wilmington Business Development, said if AAIPharma decided to invest the $20 million in Wilmington, it would go toward new corporate headquarters along with ramping up its current office and laboratory space at 1726 N. 23rd St.

Satterfield also cited an economic study by Dr. William Hall, a retired economics professor from UNCW, stating an investment in the company’s expansion could create $150 million in local revenue per year.

During county commissioners’ July 20 meeting, AAIPharma Chief Financial Officer Eric Evans said the company has “active offers in other states to do this project,” including Missouri and Wisconsin.

Related Story: County commissioners approve economic incentive grant for AAIPharma

If AAIPharma chooses to accept the incentives offered by local officials, the company will have to show evidence of the pledged $20 million in local expansion, along with creation of at least 50 new jobs with salaries around $70,000.

Mayor Bill Saffo stressed the importance of keeping established businesses in Wilmington with lack of recruitment incentives coming from the state.

“From a recruitment perspective, right now we have to do it in-house rather than depending on the funds from the state,” Saffo said. “We can see that now with the film industry, which we’re losing rapidly to Georgia.”

Satterfield reassured council members the economic incentive would send a very clear message for attracting businesses to Wilmington and New Hanover County.

“We’re serious about business,” said Satterfield. “And when you come here, we want to help keep you here and help you grow here.”

James Mieczkowski is a news reporter for Port City Daily. He can be reached at james.m@portcitydaily.com On Twitter: @mieczkowskiPCD