BEAUFORT — County commissioners unanimously approved a $50,000 economic development incentive to try and secure the expansion of local boat manufacturer Parker Boats.
County commissioners approved the incentive following a public hearing at their Monday evening regular session at the administrative building on Court House Square.
No county resident commented during the public hearing. County staff had not released information on which company was up for an incentive package, nor how much money the package totaled, prior to the advertised hearing.
The county’s contribution is a fraction of the proposed expansion’s projected cost, according to officials.
“The proposed capital investment is $1.715 million,” said County Economic Development Director Don Kirkman, who added the company is seeking incentives, not only from local sources, but from the state as well.
“This will be an important factor in their ultimate site location decision,” Mr. Kirkman said.
Parker Boats in Beaufort has a sister location in Sweetwater, Tenn., called Bryant Boats. Only one of the two locations will be home to the future expansion.
“(Local and state funding incentives) is one of the factors that the company will evaluate in the location decision,” Mr. Kirkman said. “They go to the heart of trying influence the company to expand here, rather than in Tennessee.”
Mr. Kirkman said the state has partnered on the incentive.
“The State of North Carolina, through the North Carolina Department of Commerce, had conditionally offered a $100,000 One North Carolina Fund Grant to partially reimburse the company’s capital investment,” he said.
Carteret County’s contribution will cover the One North Carolina Fund 50% match requirement. The grant, combined with the county’s match, will total a $150,000 incentive package if company executives choose to expand the facility in Beaufort.
The local match will come from one of the county’s economic development reserve funds, according to Mr. Kirkman.
The One North Carolina Fund is a state job-creation initiative. It provides grants to companies as incentives to expand in or relocate to North Carolina.
“The expansion is projected to create 38 new jobs over the next two years,” Mr. Kirkman said.
Parker Boats is one of several boat manufacturers in Carteret County. According to Mr. Kirkman, the company currently has more than 100 full-time employees.
“The company occupies a large manufacturing facility…at the intersection of N.C. 101 and Laurel Road,” Mr. Kirkman said. “If the proposed expansion occurs in Carteret County, it will provide new manufacturing employment, help ensure the continued growth of the company and will provide additional property tax and other tax revenues to Carteret County and municipal governments.”
Linwood Parker, the founder of Parker Boats, spoke to county commissioners about the proposed expansion.
“Carteret County is not a bad place to be,” Mr. Parker said. “In spite of our shortcomings…I’m glad I stayed in this area.”
Mr. Parker praised county officials, saying they have always supported the Beaufort location.
County Commissioner Ed Wheatly and others said they hope the incentive will be enough to convince company executives to go with the North Carolina expansion.
“I think it’s a win-win for Carteret County,” Mr. Wheatly said. “I don’t see how anybody anywhere in Carteret County can (have an unfavorable opinion) toward this.”
Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 201; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.