Southampton County Board of Supervisors addresses county’s industrial base
Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023
The Southampton County Board of Supervisors took action May 23 with the goal of strengthening the county’s industrial base, allowing a small project from Meherrin Agriculture and Chemical Company Inc. to move forward.
A staff report within the May 23 board meeting packet noted that MACC had submitted an enterprise zone application associated with an expansion it is making in the county, and Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. President and CEO Karl T. Heck briefed the board on the topic.
“This is a very small project,” he said. “It’s Meherrin Agriculture’s cold storage and grain operation that they’re putting in on General Thomas Highway. It is in the enterprise zone.”
WHAT IS AN ENTERPRISE ZONE?
At the request of Central District Supervisor and Board Chair Dr. Alan W. Edwards, Heck gave a brief rundown of what an enterprise zone is.
“The enterprise zone in Southampton County covers the area of up to four square miles as designated by the county,” Heck said. “So in that area where investment takes place, businesses are eligible for certain incentives.”
He noted that those areas include the Southampton Commerce and Logistics Center, the Southampton Business Park, the large area along General Thomas Highway and the area on U.S. Route 58 near Food Lion.
“So incentives are based on the number of jobs that are created,” he said. “A lot of the incentives don’t kick in unless there’s five or more employees, which in this particular case hasn’t happened but has in other performance agreements, and it works from there.”
He also mentioned that there is a state-level enterprise zone program for manufacturing and logistics and bigger operations, but he said the project he was briefing the board on was a local one.
“It’ll create fewer than five employees, so it only qualifies for the machinery and tools tax (rebate) per the enterprise zone,” he said. “It’s a $1,365,000 project, and then we get (a 50%) rebate for five years for the machinery and tools tax.”
He said MACC was currently implementing the project, and FSEDI anticipates it being done in a few months.
“The cold storage is part of what’s supporting the Hampton Farms peanut butter plant down the street, and then they’ve added this other function to help sell grain and other commodities here in the area,” he said.
Edwards called for a motion, and Southeast District Supervisor Robert T. White responded.
“I make a motion we approve because it’s going to bring jobs,” White said, “and it’s great for the farmers is what I’m trying to say, and it’ll be a closer place where they won’t have to truck the grain as far to sell it. So yeah, I think it’s a great thing and going to create some jobs and add another addition to our industrial base here.”
The motion to approve the enterprise zone application and performance agreement, seconded by Southwest District Supervisor Lynda T. Updike, passed without opposition.