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Lincoln Gives Toward Development

Economic development officials in Lincoln County have come up with state and local money for a major project involving the site of much recent success, and on Monday received another pledge from commissioners to help the county’s second-largest employer. “We’re pretty excited,” said Barry Matherly, who took over almost three-and-a-half years ago as executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association. During that time, Matherly has secured four major tenants for the Lincoln County Industrial Park, located just off exit 28 on U.S. 321.

By combining $233,000 in state money with $39,365 more from the commissioners, the county will be able to build 900 linear feet of roadway and water line to the 31 acres that are most visible from the highway that connects with both I-85 and I-40. “It’s probably some of the best land we have … it’s such a high visibility site,” Matherly said Tuesday. “It’s much more cost effective to do both at the same time, and that’s why we went to the county for the money it gave us. The sewer line is already there.” The land is currently laid out in two plots, one of 20 acres and the other of 11. But according to what operation might be located in coming, it could be handled as either a single site or multiple sites, Matherly added. “Barry’s done a masterful job … and so has the association,” said Stan Kiser, the county manager. “We’re very proud of that industrial park, and the more industry we recruit, the more tax valuation we receive.” Monday night, the Lincoln commissioners voted unanimously to furnish The Timken Co. with incentives that could help Timken’s Lincolnton Bearing Plant add to an already successful product line. With 639 employees, Timken is second only to RSI Home Products in supplying Lincoln with the most jobs. RSI has two locations (manufacturing and distribution) that employ 680 people total. “We’re very happy to see the county show support for existing industry,” said Scott Abernathy, Timken’s manager of Internet technology and logistics at the Lincolnton plant. “We hope to see in the next two to three months if the company will make its investment here.”

Two lines of sensorized wheel-end package bearings began production there in 2001, representing an investment of $20 million. Last July, Timken announced it would spend $16.3 million on two more lines, doubling the plant’s capacity for packaged bearings used in brake assemblies on SUVs and pickup trucks.

On those projects, Timken received a grant that takes care of about 75 percent of the taxes they would have paid during the next five years. That would come to about $50,000 a year.

Timken recently announced it would spend $3.5 million for yet another line. For the current proposal, Timken would receive $49,367.50 over a fiveyear period. That would be a 65-percent reduction in taxes, according to Laura Foor, LEDA’s existing business coordinator.

“Incentive grants greatly increase the local facility’s chance of securing the project,” Foor said. “Even with Timken buying Torrington (a subsidiary of Ingersoll-Rand, for $840 million) we hope this would kind of give (the Lincolnton plant) the edge. It has historically had that kind of effect.”

Forty-four jobs that pay in the range of $18 an hour were saved by last summer’s developments, according to Seth Haney, the plant’s general manager. The new line would create another 20 that pay about $15.

Based in Canton, Ohio, Timken is a leading international manufacturer of highly engineered bearings and alloy steels with operations in 29 countries. It employs almost 28,000 people worldwide and reported 2002 U.S. sales of $3.8 billion.