Burlington’s city council has agreed to extend a package of subsidizes worth $200,000 to secure a manufacturer’s commitment to expand a facility it owns near the Burlington-Alamance Airport.
During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the council unanimously approved this six-figure largesse to encourage Pittsburg-based Matthews International to proceed with its plans for the 3,400-square foot building at 2056 Willow Springs Lane.
As part of the approved package, the city has agreed to sponsor a building reuse grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce, which Peter Bishop, the city’s economic developer, had previously told the council has tentatively penciled in an award of $100,000 for this project. In addition to the grant, which requires a 5 percent match from the city, the council has also pledged to pay out $100,000 over five years if the company follows through with its plans.
In return for these various enticements, Matthews International has pledged to invest $10 million into its existing facility and hire 26 new employees over three years with an average salary of $64,061 a year.
Kris Scheetz, the chief of Matthews’ North American operations, assured the city council that its financial contribution will be put to good use if his company decides to press ahead with its expansion of this plant, which it originally acquired in 2018.
“We joined the community to better our products, which serve the consumer packaging industry,” he went on to explain during a public hearing on Tuesday. “What we’re looking to do is to bring new products that will serve new markets [to Burlington], and one of those markets is energy initiatives. We have two products that we would love to bring in around manufacturing lithium ion batteries as well as competing technology in the hyperfuel cell industry.”
Bishop informed the council that Matthews International has another facility in San Antonio, Texas which is also a contender for this same product lines. He added, however, that if the company chooses to expand the Burlington facility, it would ultimately be a financial boon for the city – thanks to the additional property tax revenue it would bring in.
“We’ve done some internal modeling on this project,” he added before the council approved the incentives in a 5-to-0 vote, “and it is a cash-flow positive project throughout the five-year period of the incentives, with a very positive internal rate of return on investment.”
Parking lot swap
In addition to this incentives package, the council also gave its unanimous blessing to a proposed swap of parking lots with the Laboratory Corporation of America.
Under this arrangement, the city will trade some of the public parking it owns near LabCorp’s headquarters at 531 South Spring Street in exchange for a pair of lots that the company has along Davis and Front streets – one block over from Burlington’s city hall.
According to Burlington’s city manager Craig Honeycutt, each of these parking areas was independently appraised for $125,000, although the value of LabCorp’s property has since been adjusted to $119,000 to account for 10 parking spaces that the company wants to retain to serve a storefront along Front Street that it wants to put up for sale.
On Honeycutt’s recommendation, the council approved the parking lot swap in vote of 5-to-0.