A computer plant closure is raising questions about financial incentives for the proposed Titan cement plant here New Hanover County.
Dell got more than $300 million in incentives from the state to open a plant in Winston-Salem a few years ago. Last week’s announcement that the plant is closing is reopening the debate on the effectiveness of incentives.
Using taxpayer dollars to provide incentives to corporations is a hot topic.
“In this specific case with titan, it was a complete waste of our future tax dollars. Not only that but it has tied our commissioners’ hands,” said Doug Springer of Cape Fear Riverkeeper.
New Hanover County has promised Titan a $4.2 million incentive package over seven years. Commissioners say these tax breaks are needed to compete.
“They’ve been very successful. GE is here, but GE could have moved other places. Corning, Vista, Verizon, because they’ve got incentives,” said Bill Caster.
These tax breaks will only be granted as long as the company employs 160 people and builds the nearly half-billion-dollar facility as promised.
“The plant’s got to be built. They’ve got to hire the people, and they start going the first year they’re going to pay certain big bucks,” Caster said.
In the past, the county has gotten its money back from certain companies who haven’t complied.
“Corning at one point, we gave them an incentive and they didn’t meet the incentive, didn’t meet the requirements. They told us that. And then we didn’t pay the incentive,” added Caster.
Even with these benchmarks, some say incentives, in this case, are unnecessary.
“It’s completely unnecessary. They had already determined that they were coming here, and we have the documentation to prove that,” Springer said.
There is a public information hearing tomorrow on the campus of UNCW at 6:30 pm for those concerned about the potential impacts of the Titan plant.
A larger public hearing will be held to debate both sides of the issue on October 20th.