Sunday, October 2, 2022

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Burlington city council joins commissioners in proffering incentives for sterilization company

Burlington’s city council has become the second local government to approve a package of financial incentives for SteriTek, a California-based sterilization company that plans to set up a $71 million facility off of Anthony Road.

The city council voted 3-to-0 for this $1.41 million housewarming gift in order to induce SteriTek to follow through with its plans for a plant that Larry Nichols, the company’s CEO, has said that he hopes will be the beating heart of an 85-acre life sciences-oriented business park.

“We plan to build a 150,000 [square foot] building.  And since 150,000 square feet won’t nearly take up the 85 acres, we plan to use the remaining property to bring in other life science companies.” – Larry Nichols, CEO of California-based SteriTek

“We plan to build a 150,000 [square foot] building,” Nichols explained to the council before Tuesday’s decision.  “And since 150,000 square feet won’t nearly take up the 85 acres, we plan to use the remaining property to bring in other life science companies.”

Under the company’s agreement with the city, SteriTek has promised to develop a facility with a taxable value of $71 million and at least 50 employees with an expected average salary of $56,800. In return, the city has pledged to complete $525,000 in roadwork, proffered $710,000 in grants to be paid out over the course of five years, and agreed to waive roughly $175,000 in planning and development fees.

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The council approved this agreement after a public hearing which drew two comments, one of which came from Alice Wesselman, a Maple Avenue resident who raised some concerns about traffic.

“I don’t have a problem with the project,” Wesselman assured the council. “I am asking the city to have a meaningful discussion with the DOT to make sure the road infrastructure is appropriate for the concrete trucks that are going to be coming down the road.”

“I think this is a good company. I just don’t understand why we have to pay them to come here.”

– Henry vines, opponent of incentives

Meanwhile, Henry Vines of Snow Camp, shared some more general concerns about the concept of corporate incentives.

“I think this is a good company,” he said. “I just don’t understand why we have to pay them to come here.”

In addition to Burlington’s 7-figure package, SteriTek received another $1,775,000 in cash-based incentives from Alamance County’s board of commissioners on Monday. The company also stands to receive over $3 million in financial inducements from the state.

Peter Bishop, the city’s economic development director, told the council that he and his counters in these other jurisdictions have spent nearly a year compiling an incentives package to lure SteriTek to Alamance County.

“There’s a very long sale cycle with these economic development projects,” he said before Tuesday’s decision.

Bishop added that he expects the city to have recouped the value of its incentives within three years of the facility’s completion, which is tentatively slated for the first quarter of 2024.

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