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By Cigi Sparks, The Observer News Enterprise

The Catawba County Board of Commissioners agreed to the growth of two Maiden companies during Tuesday night' meeting.

The board approved an Economic Development Agreement with GKN Driveline, of Maiden. Also, the board approved an amendment to an Economic Development Agreement with Apple, Inc., which is also located in Maiden.

The agreement between the county and GKN promises that the company will invest $110,000,000 and create 143 jobs over the next three years in exchange for an incentive based grant from the county.

"The Board of Commissioners approves a performance based grant, based on the minimum investment of $110,000,000 and 143 new jobs within three years, with a maximum payment of $193,200 Year 1; $427,800 Year 2; $396,808 Year 3; $423,775 Year 4; and $316,250 Years 5 and 6 (total maximum incentive of  $2,074,083). This grant will be used to reimburse the Company's expenditures as eligible under North Carolina General Statue 158-7.1. The Board of Commissioners also directs the County to execute a contract and any necessary resolutions or addenda between the Company and the County under these terms and conditions and authorizes the Chair to execute these documents," according to the meeting's agenda.

The development project is in addition to the company's 2014 expansion which totaled in a $122 million investment and 228 new jobs. This expansion will allow GKN Driveline to export their products from Catawba County to all over the world. The company "develops, builds, and supplies an extensive range of automotive driveline products and systems," according to the agenda. 

The amendment to an Economic Development Agreement with Apple, Inc. that was approved by the board on Tuesday, will allow the agreement to incorporate the company's expansion property. 

The county first entered into an agreement with Apple on July 6, 2009.This is the second time that the agreement has been amended. 

"The agreement contracted Apple to a minimum investment of $1 billion dollars by the company over the first 10 years and agreed to create a minimum of 50 direct jobs and 150 additional permanent jobs at the facility. Apple has far exceeded those commitments, having spent almost $3 billion dollars and having created over 400 permanent on-site jobs in less than 7 years," according to the meeting's synopsis. "Additional construction is currently occurring that will be completed in the next few months, and grading is underway on the remaining developable acreage on the site.  Apple has been acquiring sizable properties around the original 2009 site for future expansion purposes, and about 250 additional acres has been either acquired or placed under option for immediate use, allowing substantial additional new facility construction in the next 12-24 months, doubling the acreage and potential buildout of the original site."

The amendment essentially allows the expansion of Apple's current site by 237 acres. The company has also "Committed to an additional $1 billion in additional expenditures for the new properties, excluding any investments in solar and other green energy expenditures," now that the amendment has been approved by the board. 

Both of the requests - from GKN Driveline and Apple - were unanimously approved by the board. 

The board also reviewed two appointments to county boards, reviewed the meeting's consent agenda, heard a departmental report from Catawba County Social Services, received a report from Catawba County Manager Mick Berry, and then went into closed session to consult with the board attorney. 


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