Still a Secret
As they approved incentives for two unnamed business projects Monday, city officials learned of a new secrecy cover aimed at making it harder for secrets to leak.
On unanimous votes following public hearings, City Council approved $61,000 in incentives for the two projects that may eventually be protected by nondisclosure agreements if public officials choose to sign them.
Responding to a question from Councilman Joel Pierce, Steve Googe, executive director for the Davidson County Economic Development Commission, said public officials who have approved incentives may be told the names of the companies after signing a nondisclosure agreement.
The idea emerged from an EDC board meeting last week, he said. State law allows confidential negotiations in the area of company locations and economic development. For public hearings, all that is required is a description of the incentives to be granted and their value and the public benefit to be derived from granting the incentives.
“We have the right to withhold the names if we feel that would jeopardize the location of the company,” Googe said.
“I’d like to have the nondisclosure agreement,” Pierce said.
Project HEM is a merger of two companies planning to invest $2.3 million and create 30 jobs. The company would receive a five-year grant from the city not to exceed $6,440 annually.
Project Z13 is an injections molding firm with plans to invest $2.2 million and create 11 jobs with an average salary of $50,000. The city will pay an incentives grant $6,160 annually for five years.
Googe said both companies would increase the city’s tax base and revenues. The companies would have to pay property taxes and meet standard annual contract conditions for jobs and investments to receive the incentives.
In May, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners approved incentives totaling about $61,000 for the two companies. Following the public hearings,
Commissioner Todd Yates said he would no longer vote for projects involving unknown companies.
“As an elected official, I can’t do that,” he said.
Companies: Hem and Z13 would provide 40 jobs in the Thomasville area.
Secrets: Although The Davidson County Economic Development Commission, a private nonprofit agency, receives most of its $350,000 budget revenue from taxpayer money allocated by local governing bodies, agency leaders can keep business recruiting matters confidential.