The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners voted to give a tax incentive grant to Corning for a proposed $69 million expansion at the plant in Midland.
The commissioners approved a motion to suspend regular procedures to hold the public hearing and take action at the work session last Monday, July 2.
After debate amongst the commissioners, the motion passed 3-2 for the tax incentive. The grant would be a three-year grant equal to 85 percent of the ad valorem taxes on the increase in personal property taxes.
The commissioners debated the necessity of taxing the Cabarrus County citizens versus offering a tax incentive to bring in revenue and jobs from the Corning plant expansion.
“My vote does not have anything to do with Corning. I think they’re a good company. I don’t blame them for asking for the tax incentives. To me, it’s still unfair taxation to the rest of the taxpayers of Cabarrus County. I cant see it any other way,” stated commissioner Larry Burrage.
Siding with Burrage on the issue of giving further tax incentives was commissioner Chris Measmer.
“I wont be voting for this tax incentive. They’ve already received one tax incentive earlier this year, and I can’t imagine giving another tax incentive. I certainly don’t think it’s right, and I can’t support it,” said Measmer.
Among the commissioners who voted in favor of the grant, commissioner Jay White felt strongly in favor of the grant as a way to bring back jobs to Midland.
“The question is are we going to sit around and stick our head in the sand or are we going to do something about it. This is one way to do something about it and get everybody back to work,” said White. “We need to get our unemployed back to work and we’re not going to do it if we don’t look at ways to provide opportunities for companies to expand.”
Whiter further stated Corning would not approve of the expansion without the tax incentive from the county.
Commission Chairman Liz Poole also supported White’s statement by saying there is a legal document stating the reason Corning will do the expansion would be because of a grant.
Commissioner Poole, White and Bob Carruth voted in favor of the expansion expressing the economy would receive a boost from the expansion and jobs would be created for the county.
Corning opened its optical fiber production plant on U.S. 601 in Midland in 1999. By 2002, Corning had invested $600 million and had more than 900 employees working in the facility in Southern Cabarrus County.
Corning halted their production later that year, because of the collapse in the fiber-optic cable company, and did not resume production until 2007. By July of last year, 200 employees had been hired.
“There’s no way we can convince each other to go in different directions. It (tax incentives) is what has developed over the years to attract businesses. Here are new chances and a new investment in a part of the county that needs an investment,” said Carruth.