County approves OFS incentive

Nov. 16, 2012 @ 05:00 PM

Could the era of business incentives be over?
Several county commissioners hope so.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners easily approved on a 9-1 vote Thursday a $188,000 incentive to assist OFS Brands, a High Point furniture manufacturer and logistics company, with a proposed expansion.
After hearing from a company that has worked to keep jobs in the Triad, several commissioners voted to help with the expansion of the company facility at 1264 Jackson Lake Road, which is expected to create 188 full-time jobs over five years and add $9.25 million to the local tax base. 
Company leaders are expected to decide on a site later this month. An out-of-state location also is under consideration. OFS Brands has assembled a company from purchases and expansions by buying Carolina Business Furniture, then acquiring furniture company Loewenstein in north High Point. It is the parent company of Loewenstein, First Office, Carolina and Styline Logistics.
Democratic Commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point says he hopes the expansion indicates that more companies will be returning to the U.S. and governments won’t have to rely so much on incentives to lure them.
“I hope this will start a trend of manufacturers coming back to the United States, North Carolina and High Point,” said Democratic Commissioner Bruce Davis of High Point. “This is where workers have the skill sets. We want to be a part of the team. The door of incentives may be closed soon.”
Citing a conflict of interest, Republican Commissioner Bill Bencini, a High Point businessman who works closely with the furniture industry, did not vote on the incentives proposal.
“This is a win-win for High Point and Guilford County,” said Democratic Commissioner John Parks of High Point.  “We appreciate the consideration.”
Republican Commissioner Billy Yow, who has opposed corporate incentives for years and voted against the OFS Brands proposal, acknowledged the company’s innovation.
“This company has a lot to offer,” Yow said. “It is very innovative.”
The company also has promised to hold job fairs in High Point. The added OFS Brand jobs would pay an average annual wage of $40,700 in manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and office/administrative.
The expansion is aimed at doubling the company’s footprint in the state, said Ryan Menke, company senior vice president for supply chain.
“We are retooling, and we are extremely bullish on U.S. production,” Menke said. “We import just 5 percent or less now of our production.”
The expansion also qualifies for a state incentive, said Dale Carroll, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce.
dnivens@hpe.com | 888-3626