Approved grant agreements should create jobs

Published 7:45 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, unanimously approved agreements regarding a grant to help a local industry retrofit its facilities, a move that should create jobs.

A $410,000 grant passing from the state though the City of Washington to Weir Valves and Controls USA is expected to help create 82 new jobs during the next 18 months.

The grant comes from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. It will be used to improve the building housing Weir Valves and Controls, which is at 339 Old Bath Highway. The improvements will accommodate production of new high-pressure flow equipment for the oil and gas industry, according to the Rural Center.

The city provided a 5-percent ($20,500) contribution (match) for the project, which carries an overall cost of $999,977, according to the center.

“Weir Valves will be matching that through other construction — over $500,000 in construction … I met with Weir Valves (on Monday). They’re very appreciative of this council even considering this agreement, and I’m excited about them adding 82 new, well-paying jobs to our rolls,” City Manager Josh Kay told the council.

The company has a baseline employment of 66 workers. To meet the requirements of the grant, Weir Valves will have to maintain those 66 jobs and add 82 other jobs, said Matt Ehlers, a Rural Center spokesman. The new jobs will have to be maintained for at least six consecutive months, he said.

The new jobs are projected to provide an average annual salary of $40,965 (per employee), plus benefits. If the company does not meet the job requirement, it will have to pay back money for each position it failed to create.

“There’s a promissory note in here (the agreement). Should Weir Valves not provide the jobs, then they’re required to pay back to the City of Washington $5,000 per job that they did not meet. … Again, there is a call-back or a performance clause with the City of Washington.”

“I was so happy to see that (provision) in there because it’s the first time we’ve had that kind of language. I hope that in the future on any kind of program like this we do have a promissory note where the city doesn’t get on the hook for monies (when) an individual or corporation does not perform to the level that they said they would,” Councilman Doug Mercer said.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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