Sunday, February 25, 2024

Commissioners OK $1.9M in incentives for company expansions

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — County commissioners approved $1.9 million in economic development packages for four anonymous companies during its meeting Monday morning.

Through the four deals, New Hanover County is expected to benefit from the creation of more than 1,000 jobs, $110 million in payroll and over $125 million in capital investments. The agreements are contingent upon the companies following through with their plans.

“There’s not a dollar paid before there’s something coming in,” said Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development. “So in essence, what we’re doing is … allowing these companies to potentially keep about a percentage-and-a-half of their money. From that standpoint, I think it’s a pretty fair investment.”

The City of Wilmington will consider contributing $695,000 to the incentives at its Mar. 1 meeting. It reviewed the proposals earlier this month but unanimously postponed the decision to prolong the opportunity for the public to comment. Only one person, a former council member, spoke during the hearing, opposing the incentives.

READ MORE: Council delays vote on economic incentives 

The state also may be in on the deals. It is considering grants for the companies and has reserved the right to announce who each is when the time is right, hence the secrecy from local officials.

Cape Fear Community College, UNCW and North Carolina State Ports Authority are also in on talks of the arrangements. Each represents a variety of industries, from warehousing distribution to finance technology.

Three of the companies already exist in the area and one is looking to locate in the Cape Fear region.

“All these companies are obviously doing well. They’re expanding. So why should we put public money into this?” commissioner Rob Zapple asked. “I’m going to answer your question for you: Especially, take a look at the FinTech industry here. Those jobs could go anywhere, literally anywhere in the United States or frankly the world, but they choose here and choose to keep that money here in our local economy.”

Project Clear will receive $1.25 million over five years, with annual payments of $250,000, from the county. The city is asked to chip in $50,000 annually for five years, a total of $250,000.

Through expansion, the company expects to create at least 485 jobs over five years, paying average earnings of $131,000. It is putting a minimum of $85.2 million toward real and business personal property within the county.

Satterfield described the business as “one with decades of proof of excellence in our community” and a vital employer across the southeast.

Project Transit will receive $300,000 from the county over five years in annual incomes of $60,000. The city is asked to contribute $40,000 each year, a total of $200,000.

This company is also eyeing an expansion that will develop at least 300 new careers over five years, with an average salary of at least $62,000. Many are in sales, Satterfield said.

“This is a well-established company in our business community with hundreds of people already on payroll and with a Class A corporate operation,” he added.

Project Speed is the one new business interested in coming to the area. It is slated to take in $67,500 over five years, with annual $13,500 payments from the county. The city is expected to provide an additional $9,000 each year, or $45,000 in total.

The incentive is expected to help create at least 75 new positions over five years. Those employees will earn an average of at least $64,000 per year. Plus, the company is set to invest at least $16 million in real and business personal property.

Satterfield said the team at WBD has worked on this project for multiple years in collaboration with N.C. Ports. He indicated the corporation will drive volume through the port by servicing importers and exporters.

“It’s a large warehouse logistics provider that is looking to mitigate risk by diversifying its clients’ gateways of entry during the international supply chain pinch, which we all are too acutely aware of,” Satterfield said.

He disclosed the company intends to build a 120,000-square-foot cross-dock facility, the first of its kind in Wilmington.

“That’s exciting in itself and it will also create an array of jobs,” Satterfield said. “We’re talking about truck drivers, drayage brokers, management, forklift drivers and warehouse workers.”

Another expansion project, Project Buckeye will accept $300,000 over five years in annual payments of $60,000 from New Hanover. If the city agrees to a similar deal, the company will receive another $40,000 each year, or $200,000 in total.

The business is planning to spend at least $25 million on real and business personal property, while creating at least 204 new jobs over five years. The hirees will make salaries of $113,000 on average. Hiring could begin as soon as this year, Satterfield said.

“This is a well-known company to the community, one that has over 500 employees currently operating in the fintech arena,” Satterfield added. “A very strong company that gives back philanthropically very well and hires a lot of local graduates in our area.”

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at or on Twitter @alexsands_

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