Yesterday’s story that uncovered charges from the Town Manager of Valdese, North Carolina that Jacksonville officials promised $7 million in cash incentives to Saft America in return for the construction of a new battery production plant at Cecil Field did not sit well with Jacksonville officials.
According to Misty Skipper, Mayor Peyton’s Director of Communications, the charges are simply not true.
“The city is not in a position now, nor has it been our economic development policy, to provide large, up-front, cash incentives to business prospects.” said Ms. Skipper.
While stressing that the negotiations with Saft are still underway, and confidentiality is understandably of the essence, Ms. Skipper sketched a brief overview of what any economic incentives would entail—Qualified Targeted Industry and Brownfield Bonus grants, which carry an 80/20% split with the state (the city portion being the 20%), Recaptured Enhanced Value (REV) grants and Countywide Economic Development Fund dollars (tied to job creation).
Efforts were made to reach Jeff Morse, the Valdese Town Manager who leveled the accusation that Jacksonville was paying cash up-front to secure the deal, but those efforts were unsuccessful. However, according to another news sources, Mr. Morse backed away from his previous comments. In a conversation with WOKV’s Jared Halpern, Mr. Morse said that Saft was a “great partner” and wished Jacksonville the best.
According to the Mayor’s Office, any incentives offered to Saft will be fully vetted when the final proposal is presented to the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and the City Council for final approval. Perhaps the JEDC would consider adding their meeting agenda, and the supporting materials, to their website.