By GERRIT VAN GENDEREN firstname.lastname@example.org
HICKORY DAILY RECORD
HICKORY – The Catawba County Board of Commissioners and the Hickory City Council unanimously approved economic development agreements with a computer software startup company Thursday morning that will create 191 jobs in Hickory over the next three years.
Blue Bloodhound, LP, a division of The Greene Group LLC, headquartered in Davidson, develops Internet-based web and mobile software platforms that will connect truck drivers to needed shipments nationwide. The software also assists the drivers with maintaining safety records, reminding them of renewal deadlines and locating job opportunities for Class A and B drivers, among other driver requirements.
Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corp., presented the details of the agreements to both the county board and the city council.
The 191 jobs, which consist of customer service representatives, accounting and marketing, will have an average annual salary of $46,368; the average for Catawba County is $36,770, according to a release from the governor’s office. Millar said up to 21 of the 191 jobs are expected to pay salaries in excess of $75,000 per year.
Within the 191 total jobs required to be created by Dec. 31, 2017, 73 jobs must be created by the end of 2015; 84 jobs by the end of 2016; and 34 jobs by the end of 2017, according to the agreement.
In approving the agreement, Catawba County and the City of Hickory both agreed to provide onetime payments of $800 for each of the jobs created over the next three years. A maximum cumulative payment of $169,600 will be made by both the county and city over the three years, which will then be matched by the state.
Millar said the payment incentives agreed upon by the county board and the city council vary slightly from the usual incentives, which are based upon a new tax base that’s created by a project. Millar accredited the variation to Blue Bloodhound being a highly competitive and sought out client. The other two finalists for bringing in the company were Rowan County and Roanoke County, Virginia.
Blue Bloodhound anticipates having an additional 63 jobs created in 2018-19 – a total of 254 jobs over a five-year span – although the initial 191 jobs are the only ones required in the agreement.
Blue Bloodhound will occupy the second-floor of the renovated Moretz Mills facility at 74 Eighth St., SE in Hickory, which has unimproved space the company considered ideal for its operation. The space has been vacant for three years, according to a release from the governor’s office.
“This project will take most of the remaining space that is not currently occupied in that Moretz Mills facility,” Millar said during the agreement presentation to the county board.
The City of Hickory was awarded a Building Reuse Program grant of $259,400 by the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority to renovate the Moretz Mills facility. The company will also receive a performance grant of up to $305,600 from the One North Carolina fund.
As with all of the CCEDC’s clients, local investment is expected. Millar said Blue Bloodhound plans to invest at least $400,000 in the city of Hickory over the three-year span, a large portion of which will be for industrial transmission equipment needed.
“We encourage all of our clients to do as much locally and to have as much local impact as they can,” Millar said.
Some of the local impacts that Millar said Blue Bloodhound can participate in include using local hotel, motel and hospitality services and local building and construction services.
Catawba County serves as a frequented transportation hub due to its proximity to I-40 and I-85.
“It became a very easy decision to set up operations in North Carolina, and we are extremely appreciative to the State, the City of Hickory, and Catawba County for seeing the value and opportunity in Blue Bloodhound,” COO Todd Warner said via the governor’s office release. “We look forward to not only helping the transportation industry, but also in assisting the economic and technological growth of the area.”