County approves sale of spec building

Published 6:35 pm Friday, November 2, 2012

Beaufort County leaders on Friday gave final approval to the sale of a 4-year-old building that was intended to attract a new industry for less than half the cost of its construction.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted 5-1 to approve the sale of Quick Start II to Pronamic Industries LLC for $1,050,000.
Commissioner Ed Booth cast the sole dissenting vote. Commissioner Stan Deatherage did not attend the meeting.
Booth said he opposed the sale because the offer for the building was not high enough.
“We just didn’t get enough up front for this building,” he said.
Meanwhile, other county leaders said the deal is the best the county could do, given the current economic client.
“In the present market, it’s the best we can do under the current economic conditions,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson. “We’re taking an investment loss like a lot of people.”
The commissioners voted to sell the building “as is” to Pronamic Industries LLC, a manufacturer that filed incorporation papers Oct. 29, 2012, with the N.C. secretary of state’s office.
The company’s chief operations officer is Kevin Boyd of Washington, according to information presented at the meeting.
The company will design and build automation equipment for industry and employ mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, machinists and general laborers, Boyd said Friday.
The company has already begun hiring employees, and it is scheduled to begin full operations in March, Boyd said.
“I fought hard to keep this company here in Beaufort County,” he said. “It will have a positive impact on the community.”
Boyd said Quick Start II was recently appraised at a value of between $900,000 and $1,075,000, and he said the price paid for the building is a fair price, given the current economic climate.
Boyd is listed as senior vice president of automation and facilities on the Flanders Filters website. His biography states that he has “held positions of increasing responsibility within operations including Production Manager of Metal Products, Corporate Director of Facilities and Research/Development and General Manager of Flanders Filters, Inc.” during 25 years of experience in the air-filtration industry.
He said he would continue his work with Flanders Filters in addition to his post with the new firm.
A separate agreement between the county and Pronamic Industries will require the company to install natural-gas lines to the building in the Beaufort County Industrial Park and create 35 new jobs in the county within 18 months, according to information presented at the meeting.
Pronamic Industries has applied for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant to defray the costs of the project, the commissioners were told.
In September, the commissioners gave tentative approval to the sale of Quick Start II, but the sale could not be finalized until other potential buyers were give the opportunity to top the $1,050,000 offer — a process known as an “upset bid.”
After receiving no other offers on the building, the commissioners gave final approval of the bid.
The sale brings to a close one of the most contentious economic development projects in Beaufort County in recent years.
Built at a cost of about $2.4 million, Quick Start II was completed in early 2008 at the Beaufort County Industrial Park off of Leggett Road just west of Washington.
While the first industrial shell building on the property, Quick Start I, sold within about 18 months of breaking ground for the structure, Quick Start II, completed just before the downturn in the economy, had not found a buyer until September.
One Fortune 500 company was reported to be looking at the building while it was being built.
A committee determined the corporation was serious enough about buying the building that it decided to paint the building with that company’s colors — blue and white stripes — in the hopes that might seal the deal.
It didn’t, and after that, the building developed the problems that were made public last year, resulting in thousands of dollars in repair costs. Discussion about those repairs led some in the community to begin to question the effectiveness of economic development activities in the county.