Jobs Win: Guilford approves airport grant
With no assurances that the county would get a direct payback and amid concerns of a possible funding glitch, commissioners approved Thursday on 5-4 vote a $400,000 infrastructure grant for Piedmont Triad International Airport for a TIMCO expansion.
The company wants the grant to help with grading for the construction of two new airport hangars. The company plans to spend $32 million for the expansion. The infrastructure work totals $6.8 million.
Although the grant benefits TIMCO, a veteran airport occupant, the Board of Commissioners will pay the money to PTIA if TIMCO creates 400 jobs over five years.
“You will have those assurances from the airport and the company in the contract even though the money does not go directly to the company,” said County Attorney Mark Payne.
The grant differs from most others in that the increase in the value of TIMCO property would not repay the incentive through increased property tax payments. Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, a nonprofit authority, will own the hangars that TIMCO will lease. That reduces the tax base for repayment to the $2 million in tools and equipment the aviation maintenance company would move into the hangars.
“We may not be able to tax all the real estate, but we have the jobs,” said Democratic Commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point who voted for the incentive.
“But this kind of incentive is not covered by our policy,” said Republican Commissioner Bill Bencini of High Point. “I don’t see a performance base and there is no capital investment to tax. I have no problem doing this, but our policy does not provide for it.”
The new hangars would add 134,000 square feet to the company’s existing 700,000 square feet of space at PTIA. Kevin Baker, PTIA executive director, said the TIMCO expansion will help the company and the airport which would retain the hangars should TIMCO move.
“This will help us stay competitive,” Baker said. “This is part of the big picture at the airport for growth.”
TIMCO and economic developers received word Thursday that the Golden Leaf Foundation would pledge $1 million of the $2 million expected for the project.
Republican Commissioner Jeff Phillips called that a $1 million shortfall.
“But this will be worked out before we come to the county for the grant money,” said Dan Lynch, president of the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance.
“Not a dime will be spent on this now,” said Democratic Commissioner Carolyn Coleman. “We can withdraw if they do not get the money.”
Commissioners usually approve incentives on split votes. Board Chairwoman Linda Shaw, a Greensboro Republican, sometimes votes for incentives, but her fellow Republicans usually do not.
“This is an investment,” Shaw said. “This is a home-grown company that has been here a long time. We need these jobs.”
TIMCO will hire machinists, sheet metal workers and technicians for jobs that would pay an average of $41,800 per year plus benefits.
The company has 100 open jobs and has said for months it has experienced growing demand for its overhaul and repair services for passenger airliners and military aircraft and has turned away clients.
PTIA: The $6.8 million site preparation project for TIMCO won a $400,000 incentive from Greensboro City Council this week. The state has promised $4 million and $1 million has been pledged from the Golden Leaf Foundation.
Expansion: Five other states are seeking the company’s expansion, according to TIMCO.
TIMCO Aviation Services’ request for a $400,000 expansion grant will test again Thursday the differing views county commissioners hold on the value of incentives.
The company wants the grant to help with the construction of two new hangars at Piedmont Triad International Airport as part of a $32 million expansion. Commissioners will consider the request during a 5:30 p.m. meeting in the Old Courthouse in Greensboro.
The incentives discussion usually boils down to the value of an “investment” in jobs. In February, the board approved a $975,000 incentives package for a Procter & Gamble expansion on a 5-4 vote. Chairwoman Linda Shaw was the only Republican commissioner to vote for the P&G request. Other Republicans said the county should focus on cutting property tax rates for all residents.
“We need jobs,” Shaw has said during several incentives discussions.
TIMCO expects to add 85 new employees a year from 2015 to 2018 and another 64 jobs in 2019, according to Greensboro officials. The company will hire machinists, sheet metal workers and technicians for jobs that would pay an average of $41,800 per year plus benefits. The county incentive would cover the five-year, 400-job job expansion. Property taxes on the increased value of the expanded facility would pay back the proposed grant.
The company has said for months it has experienced growing demand for its overhaul and repair services for passenger airliners and military aircraft and has turned away clients. The new hangars would add 134,000 square feet to the company’s existing 700,000 square feet of space at PTIA. Five other states are seeking the company’s expansion, according to TIMCO.