Thank you Flanders; Thank you Fountain

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

By Staff
Nationally and locally, the economy’s looking tough, but Flanders Corporation and Fountain Power Boats Inc. have given us a little ray of fiscal sunshine in Washington and Beaufort County.
It’s a time of bailouts to cover bad mortgages, an increase in camps of the homeless and a jumpy stock market.
Gas prices have spiked. Beaufort County’s largest employer, PCS Phosphate, is waiting to see if it’ll get the permits it needs to keep expanding its Aurora facility and avoid layoffs.
That makes it particularly nice to see local companies giving us some good financial news here in Beaufort County.
Last week Flanders Corporation — a major manufacturer of filters — announced plans to move about 100 jobs back to this county from Florida by year’s end.
That includes plenty of jobs in accounting, which pay well.
And the move comes on the heels of Fountain Power Boats Inc.’s decision to buy the Baja Marine line of powerboats. That purchase was a real show confidence by owner Reggie Fountain, since the expansion came as the American Stock Exchange was threatening to delist Fountain.
Both companies’ moves show an intense confidence in Beaufort County’s suitability as a location for industrial operations, and promise to bolster local employment rates and tax rolls for years to come.
Unemployment rates have long been high in this part of the state. If we want to lift ourselves off of the list of Tier I Counties — the state’s poorest — this is the sort of thing we need to encourage.
The more businesses we have, the more businesses will want to come here. And the extra revenue the county derives from these companies once any tax incentives expire will help the county and city afford better infrastructure, which will further serve to attract businesses.
Both companies are longtime stalwarts in this county, so if the timing’s a surprise, the moves in general are not.
Both relocations had strategic value for the companies — Baja will allow Fountain to expand it’s brand’s reach-down market, and Flanders won’t have to support a stand-alone office building anymore — but we’re still glad the county will be able to reap the benefits.
Fountain got standard tax incentives to reward the acquisition of Baja, and while Tom Thompson, the county’s chief economic developer, has been quiet about the Flanders move so far it’s possible that company will too.
That seems like a good idea to us, because they’re surely doing the county a favor by bringing jobs to the county.
We hope that other large companies with Washington and Beaufort County ties will choose this time of economic turmoil to gather friends close, hunker down and ride out the storm.