Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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City to seek building reuse grants on behalf of two businesses

Burlington’s city council has given the city’s economic development director permission to apply for building-reuse grants from the N.C. Department of Commerce in order to allow two businesses to set up shop in a pair of existing commercial facilities.

Peter Bishop, the city’s economic director, presented the two applications to the council on Tuesday on behalf of National OnDemand, a Burlington-based specialist in high-tech infrastructure, and ChenMed, a multi-state operator of medical clinics.

Bishop said that, in the case of National OnDemand, the city will seek $500,000 from the commerce department to revamp the First Horizon Bank building at 435 South Main Street in order to serve as the company’s new base of operations.

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“This company as you can imagine is experiencing significant growth,” Bishop told the council that evening, “and the services they provide are very much in demand.”

A specialist in the design, construction, and maintenance of high-tech infrastructure ranging from fiber optics to clean energy, National OnDemand is currently headquartered in a former Bank of America building at 245 West Davis Street.  Bishop told the council that the company previously received $300,000 from the state to renovate this facility, which allowed it to up its head count to 40 employees.

According to Bishop, National OnDemand intends to invest at least $1.5 million into the bank building on Main Street in order to expand its staff by an additional 15 employees.

“The average salary of these jobs is almost three times the county’s average wage at $129,333,” the city’s economic developer added.

Douglas Boteler, the company’s president, told the council that the 15 proposed personnel are merely the first ripple in what he expects to be a tidal wave of workforce expansion. Boteler added that National OnDemand will maintain a presence in its current HQ even after the new facility has been renovated.

Bishop also sought the council’s blessing to apply for another $300,000 to allow ChenMed to renovate a vacant building at 378 Harden Street that formerly served as the home of Medicap Pharmacy. According to Bishop, ChenMed plans to invest at least $1.75 million to transform the defunct drug store into a functioning medical clinic with a staff of at least 30 people.

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“They’re going to fully gut and renovate the facility to make it their own,” he added, before noting that the firm’s new positions will offer an average salary of $90,390.

If the commerce department approves either of these two applications, the city would be on the hook for a cash match worth 5 percent of the grant’s value. In the case of National OnDemand, the city’s contribution would amount to $25,000, while it would be required to chip in $15,000 toward ChenMed’s requested award. In each case, the company would have 24 months to complete its proposed renovations and consummate the aforementioned additions to its workforce.

Burlington’s city council ultimately gave Bishop a unanimous nod to proceed with each application during its latest regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

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