Linamar Corporation in Asheville, NC
The Canadian firm took over a former Volvo plant in south Asheville. After some retooling, the facility now produces precision-machined components to customers of Linamar’s Industrial, Commercial and Energy Group.
State, Local Officials Offer Grant, Tax Packages
A combination of state and local incentives was put into play to help seal the deal, including state Job Development Investment Grant funds that could reach $2.5 million if Linamar meets its specific job-creation targets, and a $200,000 One North Carolina Fund grant. To get those funds, Linamar has agreed to create 400 jobs over four years beginning in 2012 and to make a capital investment of at least $125 million. The company’s jobs are expected to average nearly $40,000 per year not including benefits.
Asheville and Buncombe County officials say that the Linamar deal is just the latest successful result of literally decades of getting every conceivable player involved in business recruitment and retention.
“Five months before the announcement, we were meeting with them,” says K. Ray Bailey, a Buncombe County commissioner who also is president emeritus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and board chair of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.
“The state department of commerce was involved, as were the board chair and president of the chamber, county manager, city manager, mayor, local colleges, employment commissioners and school superintendents. We put a large group of people around that table.”
As Linamar narrowed down its potential sites, Gov. Bev Perdue was brought into the talks with the company’s top officials, which showed the area’s seriousness about making a deal, Bailey says.
Advance Planning Speeds Linamar Startup
“We agreed early on to make sure we had an incentive package, both for the city and county, and then the state came in to help with their grant funds,” he says. “We kept working at it, and they saw us working at it, and eventually we came to an agreement.”
Linamar has held job fairs and is hiring for the facility in anticipation of being fully operational by January 2012 in order to begin meeting orders that have already come in to the plant. It’s been able to keep to that accelerated schedule thanks to all the local stakeholders being on board early in the process, which allowed for training programs and more to come online quickly.
“That’s how we do it here,” Bailey says. “We gather everybody and talk about what each group or organization can provide. That’s been important, and I think that the successes we’ve had over the years are because all of us in the community work collaboratively to make them happen.”
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