Last month’s announcement of Bob Barker Co.’s expansion in Fuquay-Varina was the first use of the town’s new economic incentive policy, but it likely won’t be the last.
The town board approved giving up to $207,500 for the detention supplier company’s planned $4.15 million expansion at its Purfoy Road facility.
The contribution, a 5 percent share of the expansion, is the maximum the town can give. But the expansion will result in the creation of 40 jobs in the next five years. The new positions, warehousing and distribution jobs, will pay an average annual salary of $52,000 to $55,000.
“They were looking at a number of different locations out of town, out of North Carolina,” Town Manager Adam Mitchell said. “And I absolutely believe that the incentive we approved was what moved the needle to help them make the decision that this is financially in their interests.”
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In late 2013, Fuquay-Varina’s economic development team identified four manufacturing companies with significant presences in Fuquay-Varina – known within the town’s economic development department as the “Big 4” – as targets for public-private partnership.
The goal has been to help those companies expand and, potentially, add to the town’s credentials as a friendly place for large industrial companies. Manufacturers John Deere Turf Care, TE Connectivity and Southbend round out the Big 4.
Fuquay-Varina’s geographic location of being at the edge of both the Triangle’s urban area and rural areas to the south makes it an ideal place to recruit manufacturers, Mitchell said.
In drawing up the town’s 2014 economic development plan, town officials noted that towns farther north had focused mainly on attracting high-tech companies that wanted to be near RTP and the Triangle’s major research universities, but few had made an active play for the types of manufacturing companies with which Fuquay-Varina already had a good reputation.
“We see a void that has been untapped in this area of the county,” Mitchell said. “This is something that can really be our niche, something that can set us apart from the other (towns in Wake County).”
Commissioner Marilyn Gardner discussed the merits of having an incentive policy at the Nov. 22 meeting when the the incentive package was approved. She said the topic came up at a work session on economic development for the Triangle J Council, a Triangle group of business and government stakeholders.
“One after another, other municipalities weighed in and said if you don’t have an incentive policy, you don’t even get to discuss new business or expansion.”
Jim Seymour, Fuquay-Varina’s director of economic development, said Fuquay-Varina’s core businesses already make it easier to attract other businesses – especially the Big 4’s shared business partners – if the town can help the Big 4 members identify logistical commonalities and use that information to go after the businesses that serve them.
“Helping these companies expand is the ultimate goal, but we also want to recruit their suppliers,” Seymour said. “There are suppliers these companies all use, so we’ve been trying to identify those instances. They’ve put me in contact with those suppliers, and it’s my job to recruit them.”
Since establishing the Big 4 three years ago, Seymour said, the town also has helped secure about $100,000 in state workforce training grants for several Big 4 companies.
“The element of communication sometimes people take for granted,” Seymour said. “These businesses tend to be in their silos, so being able to get them at the table and make them realize they have a lot of the same needs is something they can rely on me to help them out with.”
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan