Under the Dome

NC House OKs loan fund for new industrial sites

The state House voted 90-25 Tuesday to create a loan program allowing local governments to borrow state money to construct industrial facilities.

House Bill 108 would establish a Site and Building Development Fund for low-interest loans from the state to counties and municipalities. The program is separate from larger incentives proposals currently under debate in the legislature.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Paul Stam of Apex, says the loan fund is needed because smaller communities don’t have construction-ready sites or shell buildings to offer companies. Without that, jobs are likely to go elsewhere.

“This is a program that would benefit large areas of North Carolina without being a giveaway,” Stam said.

The bill doesn’t set aside money for the loans; Stam says funding will be allocated through the House budget process. He said the loans can be funded through existing Department of Commerce allocations. Several economic development groups have requested the loan program, Stam added.

Several Republicans opposed the bill, arguing the the loan money could be used to construct buildings that might sit empty.

“It’s going to end up being a failure,” said Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican. “If we didn’t spend money doing things like this, we could lower the tax rate. That’s how we can end up growing the economy.”

A final vote on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday.