County agrees on tax break for Meritor

Johnny Woodard Staff writer

September 4, 2013

LAURINBURG — Scotland County will relieve a local industry of $171,000 in taxes over the next three years in an effort to keep 110 people employed and encourage a $3.5 million investment into the community.

Meritor Inc., a global supplier of axles, brakes and suspensions for commercial vehicles, will receive three annual payments of $57,000 from the county within 30 days of paying its tax bill, according to a package approved by the Scotland County Board of Commissioners this week. In the agreement, the company agreed to invest $3.5 million in its Scotland County facility and retain 110 employees that might otherwise have been laid off.

According to Greg Icard, Scotland County’s director of Economic Development, the incentive can be the difference between success and failure when recruiting new business or encouraging company growth.

“Incentives have been worked into the model,” he said. “It’s now part of the way the game is played.”

Icard said although the incentive may not seem significant in the context of a multi-million dollar facilities expansion, they can be “the decider” for a company presented with two or more locations that have equal access to infrastructure, land and an effective workforce.

“They are a way to measure if you really want industry and that you want them to be there,” he said.

Included in the agreement approved at Tuesday’s meeting are a list of company obligations, including a requirement that Meritor continue its manufacturing operation, maintain its taxable investment and keep at least 110 employees on the job. Meritor is also required to “create at least two additional full-time jobs.”

On Aug. 22, before finalization of the incentive arrangement between the county and Meritor, County Manager Kevin Patterson penned a letter addressed to residents of Scotland County that asked for support of the use of incentives in economic development. The letter was included with the agenda for the September meeting.

“Scotland County continues to face economic difficulties with the loss of several major employers in past years,” he wrote. “… To reverse this trend, Scotland County continues to take steps toward advancing its corporate vision statement: ‘To promote the highest quality of life and to create an environment that will make Scotland County the community of choice.’”

The Meritor incentive package, Patterson wrote, “is highly justified by both short- and long-term benefits and promises to significantly impact Scotland County in a positive manner for many years to come.”