Stanly commissioners set to vote on tax break incentives for ‘Project Blue Sky’

ALBEMARLE — The next step in one of the largest business developments in Stanly County’s history will take place at a Stanly Board of Commissioners special meeting on Monday night, May 4. 

The board is set to hold a public hearing and vote on the grant of tax break incentives to a large heritage manufacturer that has plans to invest at least $325 million in new taxable investment.  

Known as “Project Blue Sky” (a codeword for what is rumored to be the relocation of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry to Oakboro), the new development includes the likelihood of at least 400 new jobs within the county.  

“It’s going to be one of the biggest things that’s happened in my lifetime in Stanly County,” Commissioner Zach Almond told SCJ. “It will pass — I think everybody will be in support of it… This is something that has been in the works for probably 10 years.” 

Almond mentioned that county commissioners have heard a few negative reactions to the particular incentives that the board will likely offer, but that they are necessary in order to be competitive within the state’s economy.  

“It’s not as if we’re giving them out of the county’s purse strings; it’s money that we didn’t have already,” Almond said. “Another thing that people should be excited about is that some of the company’s vendors are already eying our county. We have consistently kept our taxes low and you can get a lot more for your money here as opposed to up north or other places with higher taxes. The Locust and Stanfield areas are very appealing to outside businesses.” 

According to the board’s notice of public hearing, one of the county’s proposals is to appropriate and spend from its general fund amounts to make certain annual cash grants to the company over a 20-year period, calculated at 80% of the total property taxes the company pays.  

As stated in an April 27 special meeting notice provided by county manager Andy Lucas, all interested persons are invited to attend the upcoming public hearing. In compliance with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 121, citizens who wish to comment during the public hearing portion of the meeting will be individually directed by staff as to when to enter the Commons Meeting Room.  

Due to COVID-19 precautionary measures, attendees are subject to social distancing guidelines and will be able to watch a live stream of the meeting in the Partnership Meeting Room at Albemarle’s Stanly Commons. The meeting can also be viewed remotely via live video broadcast on YouTube’s StanlyTV page.  

Following the board’s public hearing and vote on Project Blue Sky incentives, commissioners are scheduled to vote on employee and dependent health insurance rates for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. After that, the board will address the Webb Road Water Line Extension Project Fund before voting on a budget amendment for the project. A bid provided by Herrin Industrial was approved at the board’s previous meeting on April 20.