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September 26, 2020

Pharmaceutical company looks to bring 388 jobs to northern Kannapolis, receives preliminary approval for tax incentives

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County commissioners on Monday gave preliminary approval to a tax incentive request for “Project Lake,” which seeks to create 388 jobs over the next five years at an existing facility in Kannapolis.

The company behind “Project Lake” is a pharmaceutical manufacturer interested in reactivating the former Ei Solutions facility, located at 2865 North Cannon Blvd. in Kannapolis. The proposed project would invest approximately $14.1 million in Rowan County through improvements to the Kannapolis facility and placement of new equipment.

Commissioner chairman Greg Edds told the board that new state rulings for video conference meetings require the board to keep a public comment period open for 24 hours after a public hearing before making an official vote. The board’s approval of Project Lake’s request will be contingent upon any additional public comments. Then, it will be placed on the consent agenda for the special called meeting on May 27 at 3 p.m.

The company plans to initially manufacture hand sanitizer before eventually transitioning to producing generic drugs to be available over-the-counter and by prescription.

If Rowan County is chosen, the company plans to hire positions including filling team members, lab technicians, sales and marketing staff and facilities technicians. The average salary of these positions is about $44,000, excluding benefit packages, according to the Rowan Economic Development Commission.

The company anticipates creating 127 jobs in the first year and 117 in the second before hiring fewer employees each year until 2024, said Rowan EDC Vice President Scott Shelton at the meeting.

Shelton said that the company has conducted a site visit and is interested in the Kannpolis location due to the leftover equipment from Ei Solutions’ departure more than a year ago. Other facilities under consideration for the project are located in South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.

Also competing for the Kannapolis facility is a cannabidiol (CBD) product manufacturing facility, known as “Project Bay,” that would create 161 jobs over four years, with the average annual salary exceeding $57,000. Commissioners in November approved a tax incentive request and a OneNC grant application for Project Bay.

Shelton said he’s unsure about when Project Bay will make a final decision. However, he anticipates the company behind Project Lake will have a decision by mid-August after the county applies for a Building Reuse Grant on the company’s behalf.

The commissioners agreed to award a level one tax incentive grant as a show of support for the project. Grant requests are determined by a designated percentage level for five consecutive years based on the amount the company plans to invest. This company’s grant request is $5 million, with 75% of the paid taxes returned as a grant. The company must pay its taxes in full each year based on the actual tax value of the property or investment to be eligible to receive the grant.

If the Rowan County site is chosen, a total of $9.6 million of new equipment and construction is expected to occur before Dec. 31, 2021. The project is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2024.

The Kannapolis City Council will hold a hearing on May 26, where it will consider assistance for the project through its “Industrial Development Grant Program.”

No one spoke during the public comment period at the meeting or submitted public comments before the meeting to be considered.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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