Golden LEAF ponies up $50M to chase carmaker

Posted February 5, 2015

Golden LEAF sign

— Golden LEAF said Thursday that the economic development group's board has set aside $50 million to help attract an automobile manufacturer to North Carolina.

“The state is readying itself to win and host this type of manufacturing industry,” Chairman Johnathan Rhyne said in a statement. “An automobile manufacturer and its suppliers can create thousands of jobs and serve as a catalyst for long-term economic advancement.”

The Financial Times of London reported last month that Volvo was looking at North Carolina and other Southeast states for a U.S. manufacturing plant.

Dan Gerlach, president of the foundation, said the $50 million isn't tied to a specific site or company and could be used to pay for infrastructure improvement or worker training.

"The foundation generally does not make a single grant of this magnitude but recognizes the transformative potential of attracting this industry," Gerlach said in a statement, noting that Golden LEAF usually doles out about $34 million in grants in any year.

What jobs cost How NC's job incentives perform

The only grant the foundation has awarded that would be larger than the $50 million for a car plant was the $100 million given to the Golbal TransPark in Kinston in 2008 to attract Spirit Aerosystems, Gerlach said.

Gov. Pat McCrory has repeatedly pressed lawmakers – most recently in his State of the State address Wednesday night – for more incentives to attract businesses to North Carolina. He has said his administration is drafting a plan dubbed "NC Competes" to encourage large-scale manufacturing, attract new investment and fund long-term infrastructure projects.

Golden LEAF was created in 1999 to use some of the money North Carolina receives every year from cigarette manufacturers under a nationwide litigation settlement to boost economic development in rural area that have traditionally been dependent on tobacco farming and sales. To date, it has awarded 1,290 grants totaling more than $566 million.

Lawmakers two years ago began diverting the annual payment to Golden LEAF to the state's general fund, and Gerlach said the losses to the foundation amount to $67 million so far. Still, the foundation has more than $800 million in its accounts.


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  • shallottemustang Feb 7, 2015

    I have a better idea. Why not take the $50M and instead of giving it to some company to open up a manual "assembly" plant any non-skilled laborer could do why not make the money available to the region your trying to uplift with low cost loans and / or education grants to open a business of their own or get retrained in something really in demand in this economy?

  • Sue Sloan Feb 6, 2015
    user avatar

    And this is money that should have gone to the farmers from the tobacco industry settlement instead of making a personal bank account for corporations and politicians

  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 6, 2015

    View quoted thread

    Unfortunately businesses really only care about money. I don't recall any citing the those reasons for leaving.

  • NotAgain Feb 5, 2015

    Passing the money around freely to everyone except the workers.

  • Kenny Dunn Feb 5, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Notice that GlaxoSmithKline is moving jobs out as fast as possible and likely will be shutting down when they can find a buyer for the campus - which may take a while. Several thousand jobs gone from NC - and good jobs at that.

  • Charlie Watkins Feb 5, 2015
    user avatar

    As I recall Golden Leaf gave $100 million for Spirit to locate at the GTP.

    How is taxpaying off?

  • Derek Ellington Feb 5, 2015
    user avatar

    If you want companies to locate here, (or stay for that matter,) then the "pro business" legislature needs to stop passing bigoted and archaic laws regarding sexual orientation, religious protection and women's rights. Every time they pass another law, or Tillis and Berger opens their mouths. . .we loose investment. Stop being bigots, fix the schools, fix the roads and maybe we will have a chance. . .though what they don't realize is that the when you do something stupid in the news, it takes years to fix our reputation. Volvo ain't coming here. . .period.

  • kekkoinochi Feb 5, 2015

    Want to KEEP companies here, lower taxes! Stop giving away so much money or give an incentive to every company. IE, you hire an employee who makes more than $22K/year at the end of the first year, the state gives the employer a $1000 rebate on all new hires for 2015 & 2016. There are lots of small businesses that can also benefit when bringing on employees.

  • Kenny Dunn Feb 5, 2015
    user avatar

    "Golden Leaf"? Sounds like a store in Colorado.

  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 5, 2015

    It's a bad idea to give public money to any private company but if it's going to be done this might be a smarter choice as It takes a lot of investment to build an automobile factory. It wouldn't be so easy to pack up and move as the movie makers did moment we stopped subsidizing their programs.