Johnston County leaders plan to announce Wednesday the construction of a new plant that will create several hundred full-time jobs near Clayton.
County commissioners have called for a special meeting to release details of the project – including the company’s name and the size of its investment. Johnston has been negotiating with the company for more than six months, chairman Tony Braswell said, and everyone involved has been looking forward to making the announcement.
“It’s a big deal,” Braswell said.
County commissioners have proposed a large package of economic incentives to attract the company. Residents will have a chance to weigh in on those plans at Wednesday’s meeting, which is set for 12:30 p.m. at the Workforce Development Center, 135 Best Wood Drive in Clayton.
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In an unusual move for the county, one of the incentives involves Johnston buying land for the project.
Johnston has secured options to acquire a 95-acre tract for about $2.2 million, according to a meeting notice. The Johnston County Economic Development Corp. has agreed to foot $350,000 of the bill.
To cover its share, the county could take money out of the general fund for the next five fiscal years. Alternatively, Johnston may finance the purchase with a four-year mortgage loan of roughly $1.9 million. The county would not agree to an interest rate more than 5 percent, nor payments higher than $536,000 a year.
Johnston would then lease the land to the company, which would have an option to buy it after fulfilling certain commitments. Those include creating “several hundred new full-time hires,” according to the notice, and making investments that will “return property tax revenues substantially in excess” of the county’s contribution.
The other incentive on the table is a standard package Johnston offers all new and expanding businesses, county manager Rick Hester said. Under that program, the county agrees to give companies back some of the new tax revenue that their investments create, Hester said.
In this case, Johnston is proposing to return 50 percent of the personal property taxes generated for 15 years. The county would also return most of the real property taxes – starting at 100 percent reimbursement and ratcheting down over time to 50 percent – for the same period.
Clayton Town Council members also will attend Wednesday’s meeting because Clayton would provide water and sewer service to the new plant, said Chris Johnson, director of Johnston County Economic Development.
Johnson said he doesn’t anticipate any surprises but will be holding his breath until the deal is announced.
“I’m nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs,” he said. “I don’t want to jinx anything, but hopefully we’re going to have some good news for Johnston County.”