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"Someone could eventually close up shop," Henning said, "depending on who the buyer might be."
Rowan called that "very unlikely," and added, "There's advantages to staying in the existing facility because of the expertise in quality and biological testing you have to do to assure that the capsules are pure."
He said that moving the facility to another area would involve a lot of groundwork to assure that purity.
The debate clearly put Rowan in a bind. He had to argue simultaneously that the company needed the money for expansion in Guilford County
instead of expanding operations in competing locations, but he also had to argue that there were overwhelming reasons any buyer of the company would be compelled to keep the operations in Whitsett, where they are now, as well as strong reasons to expand in that same location rather than expand the business elsewhere.Guilford County
Attorney Mark Payne told the board that it was standard practice for county incentives' contracts to include guarantees, and, he said, if the company didn't produce and maintain those jobs it would not get the tax breaks.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips said he was concerned, given that the plant was so near the Alamance County, that Guilford County
would grant the incentives while Alamance County would get a lot of the benefit.
Phillips pointed out that about 50 percent of the current workers at the plant live in Guilford County
. He said new workers may choose to live in Alamance County where property taxes are lower.
Rowan said that, while the facility was near the county line, the closest large metropolitan area was Greensboro, which he expected to benefit from the expansion.
Phillips also said he shared Henning's concern over the potential transition in ownership.
In the end, however, the commissioners approved the incentives request.
At the meeting, the commissioners also held a quick public hearing for an incentives request of $30,750 from North State Flexibles, a division of Canadian-based St. Johns Packaging. North State Flexibles is requesting $30,750 in incentives for a proposed $4.4 million expansion in Guilford County
that would add 41 jobs with an average annual wage of $32,800.
Greensboro has already approved $30,750 in incentives for the company.
Tim Mages, the president of North State Flexibles, gave a brief history of the company, which is headquartered in St John's, Quebec, but has operated in Greensboro since the '40s.
The board quickly approved the giveaway 6 to 3, with Phillips, Branson and Henning voting no. In this case it was both Shaw and Bencini who voted with the four liberal Democrats on the board to hand out more Guilford County
taxpayer money to a huge foreign corporation.
At the meeting the county also heard a brief update on its efforts to increase spending with Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).
Shayla Parker, the MWBE buyer in the Guilford County
Purchasing Department, gave a report on the county's MWBE efforts in the first half of fiscal 2012-2013.
Parker said the county has spent $114 million on contracts and purchases and, of that $114 million, $58 million was available for MWBE spending.
"That's about 51 percent actually available for minority spending," Parker said. "The annual state target is 10 percent. We are at half the year and at the moment we're at 13 percent.
Coleman said: "I do have concerns. We are right at 3.1 percent for all African Americans. Just this week we had a meeting with the school board and they were at 6.9 percent and we were not happy with that."
Coleman continued. "I just want you to know that something has to be done more than we are doing," she said. "This really is just unacceptable."
Davis also had quite a bit to say about the low percentage of contracts that went to minority businesses. Whenever the subject comes up at meetings, it's a constant source of contention for Davis.
"As you know I could go a long time on this subject," Davis said.
Trapp said the state's 10 percent target was too low, and he said Guilford County
's MWBE numbers were too low across the board for both female and minority spending.
In other business, the county recognized Tax Director Ben Chavis, who was just chose Tax Assessor of the Year in North Carolina. It's the first time the award has gone to a Guilford County
tax director since former County Manager Roger Cotten in 1984, when he was tax director.
The board also set an afternoon meeting to advance the search for a new manager for Monday, Jan. 28. At that meeting the commissioners plan to interview some candidates, perhaps about seven, via a video conferencing system similar to Skype. If any hackers in the triad know how to hack in and intercept a Skype call or similar calls please contact The Rhinoceros Times at (336) 273-0885, but please keep it on the DL.
Before the meeting, county staff said the commissioners were attempting to get out by 6:30 p.m. However, the meeting lasted past 8 p.m. and roads were quite icy when it ended.