A company hopes to relocate to McDowell County and hire more than two dozen people.
Chuck Abernathy, executive director of the McDowell Economic Development Association (MEDA, spoke during a public hearing held by the commissioners concerning a company that wants to start operating in McDowell County.
Abernathy said he could not name the company but he did say it is an existing firm in another state that wishes to relocate to western North Carolina and hire 30 people.
In a memo to the commissioners, Abernathy explained it in more detail.
The company is an existing one located in Florida that manufactures plastic patio furniture, Adirondack-type chairs, and a variety of related products. They are mainly sold under the Wayfair name but are also on eBay. The owner of the company would open a showroom in McDowell County, according to the memo.
The company would hire 30 people within 24 months. Several of these people would be relocations from his Florida facility. The primary job at the company would be related to plastic machining. The investment initially would be around $1.5 million.
“The owner has an interesting hobby,” reads Abernathy’s memo. “He makes retro style wooden boats and canoes. He will also produce several of these in Marion to gauge the market. Lake James figures prominently in this part of the project.”
This company would locate in the only vacant space left in the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center building. That vacant space covers 40,000 square feet. McDowell will apply for a One NC Incentive from the state of North Carolina. This would be in the amount of $60,000. The county would have to provide a 50 percent match of $30,000.
McDowell’s match and the local incentive for this project would be lowering the lease rate for that space in the Universal building to $1 a square foot. The lease rate would go back to the usual $2 a foot after the match is met, according to the memo.
“It will be recommended that the $60,000 with the additional savings off of the lease be applied to renovation needs in the building,” reads the memo from Abernathy. “The county will need to make sure the heaters are working in the space. The company owner will construct additional office space, restrooms, enlarge one of the dock doors and construct a ramp.”
During Monday’s public hearing, the commissioners sought comments from the crowd inside the boardroom. One resident asked if this company would have any kind of environmental impact. Abernathy said it would not.
“If there was, we would get real nervous about it,” he said.
After the hearing, the commissioners agreed to give the company the lease rate of $1 a square foot.
“It seems like a great fit for our community,” said Commission Chairman David Walker.