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City receives $1 million building reuse grant for Continental project
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City receives $1 million building reuse grant for Continental project

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The city of Morganton has received a $1 million building reuse grant for the Continental project.

The Morganton City Council is just one vote away from approving a critical step in the upfit and expansion project at Continental’s Morganton facility.

The city says it has received the $1 million building reuse grant from the state for which it applied earlier in the year. The item of business will come up for a vote at Monday’s regularly scheduled council meeting in the council chambers at city hall at 6 p.m.

On that same agenda item, the council will vote to enter into a $25,000 contract with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments to administer the building reuse grant and make a necessary budget amendment to receive half the administration costs from Burke County, which also is a partner in the project.

Continental announced the expansion in April and in May, the city and county entered into an economic development incentive grant agreement with the company. In addition to the building reuse grant, the state is expected to contribute a job development incentive grant to the project. The city previously said it and the county also will make appropriations in the form of economic development incentives.

Continental plans on a new capital investment in structures and equipment of at least $41 million and the creation of 135 new full-time jobs, the city said. These jobs are expected to pay wages greater than the Burke County average, according to information from the city.

The city and county are expected to furnish two categories of incentives to the project. One of these would be a tax incentive grant, which will be based on increases in tax values due to the project, the city said. For a period of seven years, beginning this year, the city and county each would grant reimbursement of 75 percent of the calculated increase in tax revenues in connection with increase in assessed tax value for the company’s facility.

Additionally, if the company spends at least $2.4 million in ways that qualify for the state’s building reuse grant, the city and county would combine to pay $200,000 to the company over a three-year period, according to information from the city. The last payment would be contingent on the project actually creating at least 135 new jobs by 2020, the city said.

Carolina West Wireless water tank antenna placement

Also at Monday’s meeting, the council will consider a license agreement with Carolina West Wireless for the placement of telecommunications antennas on the Landmark Water Tank at city hall.

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If approved, the agreement will be for an initial term of 10 years for the location and operation of telecommunications antennas and related equipment on the water tank, according to information from the city. The city said Carolina West Wireless requested the agreement to provide improved cellphone service to the downtown area. The potential new agreement comes several years after the city entered into a non-exclusive license agreement with Verizon for similar placement of antennas and equipment on the water tank.

According to the city, Carolina West has offered to lease space on the tank for three antennas and associated equipment and to obtain a small space in the adjoining building for 10 years for a $10,000 up-front payment and monthly payments of $2,000. The city said the company would have the right to a five-year renewal term during which the license payment would increase by 5 percent. Carolina West will be responsible for acquiring all permits and for inspection to make sure the tank has the structural capacity to carry the antennas and equipment.

Like the deal with Verizon, Carolina West’s agreement would be non-exclusive and that Carolina West, like Verizon, would agree to allow other companies to use the tank as long as there is no interference. The city said it will reserve the right to terminate the deal if it ever determines the telecommunications uses are incompatible with the water tank’s primary function as a landmark.

Grant award of entitlement funds to nonprofits

In its 2017 budget, the city allotted $21,890 in CDBG funds to provide assistance to nonprofit organizations. City staff has recommended the council award funds to three of the six project applications received on Sept. 11:

» Award The Outreach Center $8,500 to purchase a pre-manufactured cooler to replace a failing refrigerator that is more than 35 years old.

» Award The House of Refuge Ministries $7,980 to provide supplies and transportation for the men who stay in its emergency shelter nightly.

» Award $5,500 to Options for floor repairs, a new dishwasher, repair of a water leak in an office closet and assist women with deposits as they transition out of the shelter.

The city said that applications received from Burke United Christian Ministries, The Meeting Place and Salvation Army were not funded. According to the city, it reviewed applications based on the requirements of the CDBG program.

Justin Epley can be reached at jepley@morganton.com or 828-432-8943.

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