City OK’s grant applicationPublished 12:35am Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Washington’s City Council authorized the city to apply for a $320,000 grant to help Oak Ridge Metal Works expand and upgrade its operation at the Beaufort County Industrial Park.
The approval came after a public hearing on the proposal to help the industry pay for the project, which carries an estimated cost of $640,000.
The eligible grant amount is based on a projection of 16 new jobs at $20,000 per job created by Oak Ridge Metal Works. The company will design and build automation equipment for industry.
The grant, if approved, would come from a grant fund that targets reuse of buildings such as the Brooks Boatworks building.
“The company had nine employees on Dec. 20, 2012, and will have 25 employees by the time the grant is over,” said Kevin Richards, director of community and economic development for the Washington-based Mid-East Commission.
The company has two years from approval of the grant to meet all conditions of the grant. The company may request an extension to meet those conditions, Richards said.
After questioning by council members, Richards said it would cost the city about $25,000 to administer the grant.
Councilman Bobby Roberson asked Richards if the company is a spinoff of Flanders Filters. Richards said he believes Oak Ridge Metal Works is a separate company that was founded in 1997.
Roberson expressed concern about the city being on the hook to repay all or part of the grant because the condition of creating 16 jobs in the time allowed is not met.
“I just want to be sure about it because in the past … when you lay people off, then you wait nine, 10 or 11 months then you hire these people back and you apply for grants, I don’t want the city to be held accountable on a fining situation where they’ve laid off employees, then they’ve created another subcategory employee, and then created other jobs,” Roberson said.
Many of these “job creation” grants, for the most part, pass through a local government before going to recipients. Those local governments can be on the hook to repay those grants if certain requirements — including creating jobs — are not met. With such grants, the city is requiring the grant recipient to agree to repay any money owed should those requirements not be met.