Congratulations to the North Wilkesboro commissioners for approving two new grant programs that promote job creation and tax base growth last week.

One is for larger and the other for smaller companies. Both favor existing local companies.

The Wilkes County commissioners and Wilkesboro town council are considering the programs and should adopt them to maintain consistency in what is available locally.

The Industrial Development Incentive Grant program, for larger firms, updates what already is in place for all three local governments. It offers grants equal to as much as 80% of a company’s property tax liability for five to seven years depending on level of investment.

For new companies to be eligible, they must create at least 20 new jobs, invest at least $1 million, offer wages equal to a least 100% of average pay in Wilkes and pay at least 50% of employee health insurance costs.

Existing businesses must create at least 10 new jobs and invest at least $750,000 to be eligible, plus meet the same wage and health cost requirements.

Additional points are awarded for job creation, investment and wage figures exceeding these minimums. Eligible business categories are manufacturing, distribution, corporate or divisional headquarters, back-office operations, research and development, air courier hubs and businesses utilize high technologies or innovative new technologies.

The Small Business Development Incentive Grant program helps bring economic investment incentives in reach for smaller companies. This is a $5,000 grant payable after the company completes the required new investment and makes its first property tax payment on it.

New or existing businesses must create at least five jobs, invest at least $250,000 in taxable improvements (including business personal property) and pays at least the average Wilkes County wage for the jobs as defined by the North American Industry Classification code.

Eligible sectors for these grants include manufacturing, services, research and development, distribution, headquarters, back office, transportation and outdoor economy.

Tourism, retail and restaurant businesses are also eligible for the $5,000 grants if locally-owned.

The Wilkes Economic Development Corp. hired an economic development consultant to develop these grant programs, a process that included meeting with representatives of the three local governments.

For more information or to be considered for the grants (at least in North Wilkesboro, for now), call the EDC at 336-838-1501.

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