EDC head: Taxpayers not paying county penalty


To the Editor,

I wanted to explain in more detail the Pittsburgh Glass Works equipment lease and current repayment request to the Golden LEAF Foundation.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was formed by the NC Legislature to oversee some of the tobacco settlement money that was awarded to NC in 1998 after the long running tobacco lawsuits. The organizations role is to provide economic impact assistance to communities that were very dependent on tobacco as a crop.

The GLF granted Surry County $2,045,000 in 2011 to buy equipment for PGW to help Surry County win the project. PGW in turn, would lease that equipment from the county. This is an eight year lease, and the company pays quarterly lease payments to the county. The grant was good for a five year period, meaning that PGW had to invest the money and hire all 260 jobs by January 1, 2016. PGW is behind in hiring for several reasons, but I want to make it clear that PGW has plans to hire the full 260, they just have not been able to hire enough people by the deadline in the grant agreement. They plan to have over 280 employees by the end of this year.

The $470,000 that the county has to revert back to the GLF will come from the lease payments that PGW has been paying the county. The county has received over $800,000 in lease payments from PGW to date. The county has not spent this money, but has put it in a restricted account until the end of the lease period. The $470,000 will not come from the general fund or tax payers money, but the lease payments made by PGW. Although it is unfortunate that PGW did not meet its hiring goals, in the end, the county will receive $1,575,000+ in grant funds that it can use for economic development purposes. In addition, PGW has to pay a penalty of $98,100 because it missed the jobs mark. That money goes directly to the Golden LEAF Foundation.

These projects and agreements can be complex, and I think it is important to note that no taxpayer money is involved with this particular agreement. That is why these agreements are contractual and there are repayment plans set in place.

Todd Tucker

President

Surry County Economic Development Partnership

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