Here we ‘grow’

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2013

JACKSON – Growing pains….that’s what Clements Mechanical is feeling.

And thanks to the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, the “pains” of the local company’s growth will soon disappear.

At their meeting here last week, the commissioners approved an economic development agreement that, in most part, conveys at no cost to the company a 40-acre tract of county-owned property located in the Northampton Commerce Park. The Park is located off Lebanon Church Road between Garysburg and Gaston.

Prior to discussing the agreement with the commissioners, Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that Clements Mechanical has witnessed enormous growth since its founding.

“They’ve gone from operating with one vehicle to a fleet of trucks that serve accounts up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” Brown said.

He added that the company’s workforce now stands at 70, all operating out of a much smaller facility currently located near the Lowes Home Improvement Distribution Center.

“They plan to construct (on the new site) a 30,000 square foot facility that will house the company’s headquarters and operations,” Brown told the commissioners. “Under the terms of the agreement, the company will retain the number of employees they had at the time they applied for your sponsorship for a Community Development Block Grant, which is $250,000.”

The agreement also states that Clements Mechanical will invest at least $1 million in the construction of the new facility and the installation of equipment.

In return for conveying the property, the county gains consideration from the company for those currently in their employ as well as future job creation from this growing firm. The company’s average wage is $38,663 annually, which is above the county’s current median average wage of $22,668.

There was one revision made to the agreement, one dealing with a $1 million performance bond scheduled to be posted by the company. The intent of the bond, according to Brown, deals with the possibility of the company not fulfilling the terms of the agreement.

Charles Vaughan, legal counsel to the Northampton Commissioners, said the revision was requested by Clements Mechanical.

“The way this agreement is written, (Clement’s Mechanical) would have to post a bond when we execute this agreement,” Vaughan stated. “They wish to have the bond requirement taken only should they decide to move the building and fixtures. Then they would have to post the bond. I have no problem with that change.”

Commissioner Joe Barrett said he wanted to “play the devil’s advocate” on this proposed change.

“Supposed the company went bankrupt, hampering their ability to post such a bond,” Barrett pondered.

“Then they couldn’t remove the building and fixtures,” Vaughan answered.

“Could that scenario possibly cost the county more later on by us having to clean the property or remove a building,” Barrett inquired.

“That’s what we’re trying to avoid. They could abandon the project and take their personal property out, but if they wish to go there and remove the building and the fixtures, then they would have to post this bond. Otherwise, a 30,000 square foot building and fixtures are going to be sitting there with the ownership reverting back to the county,” Vaughan explained.

Barrett also inquired of the $250,000 CDBG grant, asking if the county had to “front” that money until it actually came in from the granting agency.

“No, the company is fronting that money,” said Brown.

On a motion from Commission Vice Chair Virginia Spruill and a second from and a second from Commissioner Fannie Greene, the economic development agreement was approved without objection, to include a revision to the wording of the performance bond.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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