Sunday, May 19, 2024

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Graham, NC 27253
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Graham gives Cintas $5K in hopes of helping co. get state funding

Graham’s city council has approved a $5,065 package of incentives Tuesday night that are designed to “prime the pump,” so to speak, in hopes of assisting a local company to get a much larger state incentives grant, for $100,000, that would be used to help finance a $1 million project at the company’s Graham location.

Graham would provide $1,013 annually, over a five-year period, to Cintas Corporation, located at 610 Woody Drive; the company provides uniforms, mats, mops, restroom supplies, first aid and safety products, fire extinguishers, and testing, and safety training.  Headquartered in Cincinnati, Cintas is a publicly-held Fortune 500 company.

The company is applying for a state grant of $100,000, which would go toward a $1.013 million project at the plant.

Graham’s underlying incentives policy is to offer up to 1 percent of a total capital investment as an incentive.  The amount requested for the Cintas project is about half that level, or 0.5 percent.

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During a public hearing on the project, which was identified in all preliminary materials simply as “Project Pristine,” David Putnam of the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce outlined the company’s plans.

The company hopes to upgrade its sprinkler system at the existing location, install backup generators, and a transfer switch, and improve other aspects of the company’s operation.

Putnam described the project as a “competitive” one – inasmuch as the company has other locations where it could opt to make such improvements – and he said it would be a “valuable project” for Graham.

[Story continues below photo.]

David Putnam of the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce (right) and Kyle McClure, the general manager of Graham’s Cintas facility on Woody Drive.

Putnam said the city’s incentives package would be a “really good deal” for the city because it would “unlock something greater” if the city’s contribution would help the company get a building re-use grant from the state.

Alamance News publisher Tom Boney, Jr. raised concerns about the secrecy that had surrounded the proposal.  Boney noted that all previous description about the incentives had only listed it as “Project Pristine.”

Boney urged city officials to come up with a more transparent approach, similar to ones used by county government and the city of Burlington, which provide more information before the actual public hearing, sort of “two-step process,” as Boney described it. The company is identified when a public hearing is set, he said, and then details about the incentives are subsequently provided, but before the public hearing.

In Graham’s case, “Only tonight are we hearing the name of the company,” Boney said.

While he said he had no objections with the underlying Cintas project, Boney said it was not fair to Graham residents not to know the details of the incentives package prior to the hearing. City officials had refused to provide additional information in advance when the newspaper sought more details, Boney said.

Such excessive and unnecessary secrecy, Boney said, “is not a proper way to run the government and not fair to the taxpayers.”

The identity of the company, Boney said, “is a fundamental fact” that should have been publicly announced.

Boney also asked whether any additional jobs would result from the incentives package.

Putnam explained that 35 new jobs would be created, although it was explained that there is no commitment to any job creation in the incentives agreement with Graham per se.

Putnam said that in addition to the 35 new jobs, another 75 jobs had been added last October when a 60,000-square-foot addition was made to the plant.

Mayor Jennifer Talley said the “very small incentives” package was a “nominal amount” for the city to contribute to show its support for the company’s project.

The state commerce department could announce whether it will approve the Cintas grant at its June 20 meeting.

The council voted 5-0 in favor of the $5,065 incentives grant.

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