Newton County has a lack of available mid-sized industrial buildings, in the 100,000 square foot range, and, as a result, the county recently missed out on an advanced metal fabrication company.
"We were hurt because we didn't have a stand alone building (in the size they needed)," Roger Harrison, the chamber's senior vice president of economic development, told the Newton County Industrial Development Authority Thursday.
The industry didn't want to locate in a multi-tenant building because it was concerned about the excessive level of noise and vibration it would produce.
The industrial development authority continued to discuss avenues to build more speculative buildings in Newton County. Harrison said the ideal size would be a 100,000 square foot building designed to be expanded up to 150,000square feet if necessary. A high-quality masonry building would be preferred.
With the recent recruitment of Amesbury Extruded Products and Vestar Technologies, stand-alone industrial space in Lochridge Industrial Park is filling up.
The authority has around $740,000 in its bank account, but it would have to borrow more money to build buildings itself. Instead, the authority is hoping to partner with a company. The authority would be largely broke had it not sold 80.97 acres of land to the Newton County Board of Education for $1.13 million in late 2009.
County Chairman Kathy Morgan said industries prefer to finish out speculative buildings or remodel existing buildings because that is significantly cheaper than building a new building. In addition, many industries are working on a very quick timeline, often wanting to be up and running within 90 days.
Harrison plans to meet soon with Atlanta-based Choate Construction, which has built expansions for and renovated portions of Newton Medical Center.
The authority is also still considering The Hollingsworth Companies, a company that generally builds virtual speculative buildings, markets property at trade shows and other events and is then able to build a, generally metal, building within six months.
Amesbury gets $38,000 local incentive
The authority agreed to offer Amesbury Extruded Products a $38,000 incentive from authority funds. Authority attorney, secretary and treasurer Frank Turner Jr. said the incentive helped Newton County recruit the company.
The authority will purchase $38,000 worth of equipment and then lease the equipment to Amesbury at no cost. In exchange, Amesbury must meet investment goals, including $2.1 million in capital investment, generally building improvements and equipment, and create at least 28 full-time jobs within five years.
If Amesbury does not meet at least 90 percent of its stated investment level, it will have to repay a portion of the incentives it received. For example if Amesbury fell 20 percent short of its investment level in year five, it would have to repay $3,800, or 20 percent multiplied by $19,000, half of the original incentive. The same calculation and repayment of the other half of the incentive would then be made in year six.
Amesbury officials said previously they expected the Covington plant to be at full operating capacity in three to five years, at which point it will employ 35 to 40 workers and represent a total investment of $7 million to $8 million.