Fayetteville city leaders approve Sanderson Farms incentives
Posted February 23, 2015
Fayetteville, N.C. — After Cumberland County commissioners abandoned, then reestablished their recruitment of a chicken processing plant, Fayetteville city leaders followed suit Monday night by approving their own incentive package for the facility.
City council members voted 7-3 in favor of their offer to entice Sanderson Farms to build a plant in the area. The move comes one week after commissioners voted 4-3 to offer their own incentives – just a few months after the board couldn’t agree whether to do so, then voting against a public hearing regarding their $2.5 million incentive package, then reversing their decision in January.
But it may be all for not. County Attorney Rick Moorefield said during the January meeting that the county was no longer being considered.
As of Monday, the Mississippi-based company, the country’s third largest poultry producer with plants in Kinston and 10 other places across the southeast, has not said publicly if it is still considering Cumberland County. The company was considering whether to build a $95 million plant in a county-owned, 480-acre industrial park in Cedar Creek, east of Interstate 95.
The proposed plant would bring 1,000 jobs to the area, and the company would contract with 80 chicken farms in a five-county area to supply the plant, company officials said previously.
Robeson County conducted public hearings last week regarding incentives for an economic development project titled “Project Apple,” which has been speculated as the Sanderson Farms plant Cumberland County is also vying for, according to news reports. Sampson, Hoke and Harnett counties, as well as one location in Virginia, have also expressed interest.
Fayetteville’s plan includes grant backs for reaching hiring quotas for minorities, women and non-violent felons, spending at least $95 million to build and equip the facility and a commitment from the city to grant a cash equivalent of 70 percent of city general property taxes for the first 10 years.
The latter was something Councilman William Crisp did not agree with.
“70 percent, to me, is extremely excessive and it’s taking money out of the pockets of the citizens,” he said after voting against the plan. Council members Kady-Ann Davy and Theodore Mohn voted with Crisp.
The city’s incentive plan is similar to the county’s, which includes the company creating at least 975 jobs – 60 percent of which would go to Cumberland County residents – over three years and not contracting with any poultry farms within a 10-mile radius of its facility or within a mile of the Cape Fear River. The jobs would start at almost $11 an hour.
In exchange, the company would receive a 50 percent grant back of county property taxes to be paid over a nine-year period.
Opponents expressed environmental concerns about the plant that range from noxious smells to contaminated groundwater. Proponents say the plant will bring much needed jobs to an area driven by an ever-changing military base.
“Suppose you were standing here talking to me with no way to feed your family, no way to pay your bills,” said Fayetteville resident Grady Mims. “You know we got to think about other people.”