Rowan County goes camping: Commissioners approve sale of land for RV dealership and service center – Reuters

SALISBURY — Campers arrive in Rowan County.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved the sale of 40 acres of land at the end of East Ritchie Road near Koontz Elementary School to General RV. The Michigan-based company plans to invest $25 million over the next three years to build an RV dealership and field service center.

“We believe this site and community is a perfect fit for our business,” said John Balice, Director of Facilities and Development at General RV. “There is a very strong RV market here, a strong employment base and also a need for a high quality RV dealership. We believe in forming strong, mutually beneficial partnerships and our commitment is to be a leading partner for our customers, our employees and our communities.

The nearest current General RV dealership is in Richmond, Virginia. This will be the company’s first location in North Carolina, according to the General RV website.

The county sold the land through North Carolina General Statute 158-7.1(d), which eliminates the requirement of the upset bidding process and allows for private negotiation for economic development purposes.

General RV’s accepted offer of $2.9 million was almost $1 million more than the appraised value of the land. The money will go to the county’s general fund.

“It’s not like (General RV) made the biggest deal, even though it’s a good site,” said commissioners’ vice chairman Jim Greene.

The county ordered a reappraisal of the property after receiving an offer from another company to buy the land several months ago. The county was about to sell the land to this company for its discounted appraised value of $1.95 million before General RV made a higher offer, kicking off a short bidding battle between the two interested parties.

The commissioners weren’t very interested in General RV’s plans for the property initially, chairman Greg Edds said. Although the company anticipates $150 million in dealership sales per year, Edds said only $10 million will be taxable to the county. But after the General RV team visited Rowan County and pitched their idea, things started to change.

“After reviewing them, it became increasingly clear that this will give us some diversity in what we do on the freeway,” Edds said.

Edds said the other company interested in the 40 acres planned to build a speculative warehouse on the site.

Edds said the board of commissioners checked with several communities where General RV had established dealerships and received rave reviews.

“We had a Zoom call with two of the locations where they put them up and these people love General RV,” Edds said.

The board, Edds said, is particularly excited about the jobs associated with the dealership. General RV expects to create 150 full-time jobs over the next three years as part of the project. These new jobs would include positions in a variety of fields such as mechanics, sales, finance and administration. The average annual salary for the 150 positions is expected to be $65,000, which is well above the county’s private-sector average salary of $48,360, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“That’s why we got interested: it’s the high-paying jobs, the partnerships and the good references that we have in several communities that really, really love them,” Edds said.

The General RV dealer would also create 66 indirect and induced jobs generating $4 million in annual wages and benefits, according to Jobs EQ. These jobs would translate into annual gross revenues of $10.9 million for the businesses that create these jobs.

According to the Rowan Economic Development Council, the General RV dealership and service center is likely to bring thousands of customers who will spend an average of six hours in Rowan County while touring their facilities. The Rowan County Tourism Development Authority estimates that these estimated 10,000 visitors will result in spending $740,000 in the area.

“A lot of these people come with a date on Saturday, so they come in Friday night, stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants,” Edds said.

Rowan County projects to collect $1.6 million in property tax revenue from the land over 10 years.

General RV expects the dealership and service center to be completed in approximately 2.5 years.

With the sale of the land to General RV, incentives were passed for a 380-acre industrial park on Long Ferry Road and last week’s announcement of a Macy’s e-commerce distribution center bringing in $584 million in investment and 2,800 jobs, Edds said at the meeting that the past five days “may be the most significant five days, at least from a project standpoint, in Rowan County history.”

In other meeting business:

• Commissioners approved the use of $22,740 of American Rescue Plan Act funding to purchase 12 scanning stations and necessary licenses for the Department of Human Services “to improve the protection of personnel from the spread of diseases in the exercise of their functions”. The stations will reduce the number of people using the scanning stations throughout the day.

• Commissioners approved a request by Sheriff Kevin Auten to offer incentives to “attract and retain” detention officers at the Rowan County Detention Center. The incentives will only be valid for the 2022 calendar year. There will be a “perfect attendance bonus” to staff who do not “call in” or leave a shift early without prior written permission. The bonus would be $50 for the first quarter, $100 for the second, $150 for the third and $200 for the fourth. Commissioners also approved the allocation of $500 per month to purchase snacks and beverages for detention center staff to consume while on duty ending June 30. In addition, meals provided to inmates will now be made available free of charge to detention center staff while on duty.

• The Board of Commissioners approved the allocation of $258.09 to each teacher at Faith Academy Charter School for school supplies to match what is provided to each teacher at Rowan-Salisbury Schools. With 32 teachers each receiving $258.09, the county will distribute a total of $8,258.88 to the school.

• Commissioners adopted proclamations for Public Safety Carriers Week and Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

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