North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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32 N o r t h C a r o l i N a E C o N o m i C D E v E l o p m E N t G u i D E programs. The college recently opened a new advanced- manufacturing center that offers short-term training geared toward finding employment. When GF Linamar opens its new facility on a 55-acre tract in the Ferncliff Industrial Park, Carlos Vasto will be the plant's general manager. Vasto, who lives in Germany, has held a variety of positions for GF Automotive, including in Brazil and England. A division of Georg Fischer AG, GF uses its die-casting technology to make automotive parts at nine plants worldwide. "My family and I are very excited to relocate to North Carolina, and I am looking forward to this new challenge," Vasto says. • • • hile the new GF Linamar plant is a homerun for western North Carolina, Tate and others admit that recruiting these companies to the area can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Tate explains that when an auto-parts manufacturer starts to search for a new location, it typically consults with one of its original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to find a desirable and convenient site. North Carolina doesn't have an OEM, so more often than not, companies interested in moving to the area will contact the 800-pound gorilla that is BMW. "As you would expect, the state that houses the OEM will try its best to keep the project within the state," says Tate. "So our challenge is we're often late coming to the project, or we may not even know about it." Tate points to a recent tax rate comparison his organization did for a company that was looking at sites in both western North Carolina and Spartanburg County, S.C., near the BMW plant. The results showed that the North Carolina industrial building property tax was about one-seventh of the cost in South Carolina and machinery property tax was about one-sixth. Moreover, another study Tate conducted for an automotive company showed that wage rates were lower in western North Carolina compared with Spartanburg County. "We offer a lower-cost place for doing business," he says. "But it's not always just about who has the lowest costs. Linamar is an example of a company that had other location options — including Richland County, S.C. — and very aggressive support from other states. But they wanted to be here, where their employees would be happy long term." Originally from Germany, Cornel Broenner, general manager for the new Demmel plant, moved to the U.S. in 1999. He met his wife, a Henderson County native, in Charleston, S.C. After the couple married in 2007, they moved all over the country but eventually settled in Henderson County, where Broenner often rides his motorcycle along the scenic mountain roads. "We're happy here," he says. "We're done moving." Broenner worked closely with Tate in recruiting the company. Demmel W

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