County's poverty rate may help recruit jobs

Lincoln County’s increased poverty rate from 16.7 to 18.5 percent in the past year and the addition of another tier on Tennessee’s tax credit structure have resulted in the county dropping from Tier 1 to Tier 2, a move that officials anticipate will help the community gain jobs.

The tier system identifies the state’s enhancement counties for jobs-related tax credits, meaning that tax credits may be applied against a company’s franchise and/or excise tax liability – those credits result in tax incentives for companies to create new jobs.

Until this year, Lincoln County was a Tier 1 county, meaning that the minimum jobs tax credit of $4,500, with a 15-year carry forward, is available to a company within a county creating at least 25 net new full-time positions within a 36-month period. Moving to Tier 2, the carry forward is increased by three years.

“You’ll see on the map that it makes us competitive with our surrounding counties, which we typically compete with,” said Elaine Middleton, executive director of the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Industrial Development Board during its last meeting.

Except for Moore County, which remains a Tier 1 county, neighboring Giles, Marshall, Bedford, Coffee and Franklin counties are all Tier 2 counties, according to the map depicting Tennessee jobs tax credit enhancement counties. Altogether, 23 of the state’s 95 counties are designated as Tier 2 counties.

Seventeen counties across the state are Tier 1 counties, while 22 are in Tier 3. The greatest number of Tennessee counties, though — 33 in all – are designated as Tier 4 counties, areas considered to be the most economically distressed in the state.

Acknowledging that multiple factors can impact a county’s poverty rate, Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman said the re-assessment will qualify the county for increased matches.

“It doesn’t always mean that the people are making less,” he said. “The statistics that it’s evaluated on can change, too. And it does mean that we can get matches for projects that we didn’t qualify for previously.”

Middleton said that on the site development grant for with Runway Centre, for which the industrial development board gained a 50/50 match from the state, would have been a 70/30 match had Lincoln County been in Tier 2 at the time.


TMD expansion

In other business during the FLCIDB’s July session, Middleton briefed officials on the ongoing progress related to Toledo Molding and Die’s expansion, which will ultimately double the plant’s size and add between 150 and 200 jobs to the company’s workforce here.

“Lincoln County Paving continues to work on the grading for the truck dock area,” Middleton reported. “Fite Construction is continuing to dig the footings and making plans for the first shipment of steel, which is scheduled to be here Aug. 2, with the second shipment coming the week after that.”

Wall and roof panels are also scheduled to be delivered soon, she said, noting that the project is expected to be completed either late this year or early in 2019.


Director’s evaluation

Board members discussed their annual evaluation of the executive director, noting that she scored the highest in quality and quantity of work performed, followed by board relations, fiscal areas, communications and traits.

Her total score amounted to 380, said Chairman Jack Marsh, noting that a score of 400 was outstanding and 320-plus was above average – “I think all of us combined gave you a pretty good score,” he said. “There were some comments that you and I will sit down and go over ... but overall, I think the whole board is very satisfied with the job you are doing.”

Board members voted to use funds budgeted for their own compensation, which they gave up a year ago, to give a lump sum three-percent raise to the executive director and administrative assistant – that equates to $2,200 and $900, respectively – for the past year.

“That will make up for no raise for 2017-18,” said Marsh, noting that a raise is budgeted for 2018-19, as the motion was made. The motion was approved unanimously. The executive director’s current salary stands at $77,070.


Posey house

Action on the Posey home, built in the 1930s and located in the Highway 64 industrial park, may be on the board’s next agenda as members consider its future. Over recent years the structure has fallen into disrepair, according to discussion. Consequently, the board is now considering proposals to either have it relocated or demolished.

The house could also be the site of the state’s next recommended location for a new building or a build-ready pad, said Marsh,


Other business

A few punch list items remain in regard to the community’s newest speculative building in the Highway 64 industrial park.

Concerns related to covenant violations by a company in Bullington Industrial Park were discussed, as board members expressed their doubts about whether hardwood trees planted to create a natural barrier or screen at the rear of the property would be sufficient. Original suggestions made by the board to the company are expected to be readdressed with the company.

Since the board’s previous meeting three weeks earlier, the office has received three site visits, each of those being third or fourth visits to the community. One of those, however, has chosen a speculative building in Lawrenceburg as its future site – the community here had been in the final two sites considered.

“We still have four active projects we’re working with now,” Middleton said, noting those projects are considering the new speculative building as well as the Nippon Steel site and Runway Centre.

In that same time-frame, the board has received two requests for information from the state and/or TVA, but due the large footprints of buildings sought by the prospects and other criteria, the board wasn’t able to submit.

Board members voted to spend $1,150 to refurbish the sign at the Bullington Industrial Park.