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Timken, Lincoln Talk Incentives

The Timken Company wants to spend $3.5 million to bolster an already successful product line. Whether or not that happens at the Lincolnton Bearing Plant, the company said Friday, could depend on economic incentives provided by Lincoln County. “We have to put a line in somewhere to make more of the wheel units, and we’re hoping that comes to Lincolnton,” said Seth Haney, the plant’s general manager. Approval of the latest Timken request for an economic incentive grant could come at the March 3 meeting of the Lincoln commissioners. “It’s one of the keys from our standpoint,” Haney said. “The company’s already going to make that investment and the decision is in process. . .The incentive is one of those things that make a difference.” Two lines of sensorized wheel-end package bearings began production at the plant in 2001; representing an investment of $20 million. In 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 sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. “The (machinery) is on the floor and we’re installing it now,” Haney said. “We should have one line running in June and the other in the middle of the fourth quarter, probably November.” 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, according to Barry Matherly, executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association. The figure would come to about $50,000 a year. For the current proposal, Timken would receive $49,367.50 over a five year period. That would be a 65 percent reduction in taxes, according to Laura Foor, LEDA’s existing business coordinator. “With the down economy, it’s always exciting to see existing industries prosper,” Foor said. “That way they are contributing to the economy and the tax base and creating jobs.” Timken’s bolt-on automotive wheel bearing package for light duty automotive applications features an integral sensing system designed to improve performance for anti-lock brake systems and traction-control systems. What makes the product attractive to automakers is it comes fully assembled and ready to become part of the final product. “Customer orders are very strong,” Haney said. “Part of that is because the product is used on four-wheel drive vehicles, and they’re selling better because of the harsh winter.” Forty-four jobs that pay in the range of $18 an hour were saved by the recent developments, Haney said. The fifth line coming to the Lincolnton plant would create another 20 positions paying about $15 per hour. About 650 people work there now. Based in Canton, Ohio, the company announced this week it would buy Torrington, a subsidiary of Ingersoll-Rand, for $840 million. Timken is a leading 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.