By Chris Berendt Staff Writer
March 5, 2014
Brooks Brothers’ presence in Sampson County is about to grow considerably at both its Garland and Clinton locations, and county officials are seeking to cement that expansion by offering incentives for the 84 jobs and $5 million in investment that will come with it.
On Monday, the Sampson Board of Commissioners unanimously approved offering grant back incentives to Brooks Brothers, which currently has two facilities in Sampson, including the Garland Shirt Company that manufactures men’s dress shirts and a distribution center in Clinton that helps support Brooks Brothers’ wholesale and online businesses.
The board approved a similar grant back incentive agreement with Carolina Cellulosic Biofuels LLC (Chemtex), whose investment has grown since an initial incentives contract was floated nearly three years ago.
For Brooks Brothers, the total project investment would be $6.8 million, with taxable investments of nearly $5 million ($3.7 million in Garland, $1.3 million in Clinton) over five years, which will mean tax revenues of $145,172 over a 10-year period and the creation of 84 full-time jobs (56 at the Clinton Distribution Center, 28 at the Garland Shirt Factory) at an average salary of $26,149.
“In our Garland Shirt Factory, we see a need in the marketplace to produce more U.S. made products,” John Martynec, senior vice president for U.S. manufacturing for Brooks Brothers, stated in a letter to the board. “At the Clinton Distribution Center, we see that facility playing a larger role in Brooks Brothers’ overall product distribution strategy. This center supports our wholesale and our online business but could play a large role in shipments to Latin America.”
Over the next five years, the Garland expansion would create 28 full-time jobs at an average annual wage of approximately $33,000, Martynec noted. The Clinton expansion would result in the creation of approximately 56 full-time jobs at an average annual wage of approximately $22,700.
As part of the agreement, the county would offer grant back incentives in the amount of 66 percent — or $60,000 — to Brooks Brothers in the first five years, with remaining tax revenue totaling $30,492 for the county. There will be no grant back incentives for the next five years, meaning the county will net $54,680 in tax revenue.
In total, the county will garner $85,172 in additional revenue for the first 10 years after 41 percent total grant back incentives.
“The 66 percent level is higher than (the board) usually likes to approve, but with Brooks Brothers being so important to Garland and to Clinton with the jobs — and the potential for additional jobs in the future — I feel like we need to express to them our sincere and genuine support as they are in a challenging business,” said economic developer John Swope.
Brooks Brothers’ Garland factory currently employees 270 full-time employees and six temporary employees. At the Clinton site, located on Warsaw Road, there are currently 48 full-time and 30 temporary employees. Swope noted that an incentives package could go a long way toward not only creating new jobs and investment, but firming up the company’s existing jobs and investment.
“Another important point is the retaining of those jobs and the potential of new jobs in the future,” Swope attested. “These two plants could fit very well into their future growth, beyond what we’re talking about today.”
Commissioner Albert Kirby reiterated that 66 percent was a high grant back incentive total for the first five years, but he and other commissioners agreed that Brooks Brothers was a valuable member of the community with a long history in Sampson. The company would also be paying roughly the same percentage as Chemtex, at just over 40 percent, when taking into account the 10-year outlook.
“It appears to be high because (the county) is giving grant backs in the first five years, but then in the second five years there are no grant backs,” said board chairman Jefferson Strickland.
“We don’t have to go out and find the industry — it’s already here,” Commissioner Billy Lockamy pointed out. “They could take the whole plant and move, but they want to try and improve themselves and stay. They’ve been good to Sampson County, the lower part of the county and to Clinton also.”
The growth would bring the company’s total employment in Sampson County to 438, including the 36 combined temporary positions at the two locations.
Along with Brooks Brothers, the board also unanimously OK’d an incentives package for Chemtex for the $151.2 million in taxable investment and 65 full-time jobs it will be bringing to its soon-to-be-constructed facility just outside of Clinton.
Tax revenues are anticipated at $7.8 million over a 10-year period, Swope noted.
Of the $7.8 million in tax revenues, the county will receive 58 percent of them — about $4.5 million — after $3.3 million in grant back incentives.
Chemtex is currently in the development stages of locating a $200 million plant on a 40-acre site at Clinton Industrial Rail Park on Turkey Highway (N.C. 24). The plant, which would be the first commercial-scale, advanced biorefinery in the United States, is expected to be operational by 2016. The 65 full-time jobs at the plant would have an average salary of $48,415.
In May 2011, Chemtex’s taxable investment level was $90 million and the anticipated tax revenues over the first 10 years stood at $5.4 million. Those numbers have now grown by some $61.2 million and $2.4 million, respectively, for the first decade.
“I would love to bring you a $61 million project that was brand new, but having that as an addition to the Chemtex project makes the Chemtex project even more exciting,” Swope remarked.
The refinery would make ethanol from plants other than corn, producing 20 million gallons per year of cellulosic biofuel from locally grown energy grasses, agricultural residues and woody biomass. The company engineered and constructed the world’s first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facility in Crescentino, Italy, which began operations in December 2012.
The second facility now looks to benefit Sampson County, whose incentives will go along with approximately $40 million in state incentives the project is expected to receive.
Swope stressed that the incentive agreements with Brooks Brothers and Chemtex are dependent on jobs being created and tax investment being made.
“Our county incentive policy, as well as all the state incentives, are performance-based. No dollars are provided on the local or state level until they have actually employed the number of people they’ve committed to and made the taxable investment, and our office researches that … to see if they’ve made that investment,” Swope pointed out.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.