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County commissioners approve $13 million in economic incentives

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New Hanover County Commissioners voted to spend millions of taxpayer dollars Monday night -- public dollars to lure private enterprise here with hopes of a big payoff down the line. New Hanover County will offer GE and Invista a combined $13 million to expand their operations here. That's one of the largest economic development incentives the county has ever offered, but it's one commissioner say, will create a profitable return. The vote was unanimous. The county will offer GE $10 million over 12 years and Invista $3 million over six years. It's an incentives package that the county hopes will mean good things for our local economy. "GE said possibly they would invest $900 million and employ 900 people, so that's just a tremendous investment," County Commissioner Vice Chair Robert Greer said. Opponents of the incentives say the county shouldn't use public money to fund private business. But County Commissioners say incentives have proven to be valuable, especially in the case of GE. "The last time we offered something to them in the form of a grant they more than doubled what they said they were going to do in terms of their investment and employees," Greer said. Just because the incentives were approved, doesn't mean the checks are in the mail. The vote only approves the offer of the funds and then a contract is written, binding the companies to follow through on what each promised. For GE it's an investment of $900 million and 900 jobs, for Invista it's a $200 million investment and 50 jobs. There is no guarantee that either company will chose to expand here. The offer will now be presented to them, and the companies are expected to make a decision by the end of this year. Also, each company treats its own waste, so representatives say neither one will put additional strain on our sewer system.

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