Kent County Levy Court commissioners have given the go-ahead to a tentative package of grants they hope will persuade a Canadian company to relocate in Dover.

Kent County Levy Court commissioners have given the go-ahead to a tentative package of grants intended to entice a Canadian company to relocate in Dover.

The plan, espoused by Kent Economic Partnership CEO Daniel Wolfensberger at the panel’s Sept. 21 committee meeting, would pay Evergreen LED LLC $100,000 over a three-year period to move from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The company already has settled on using approximately 40,000 square feet of a 210,000-square-foot warehouse building at 1567 McKee Road should the grants be approved, he said.

Commissioners were receptive to the idea of providing the grants from the county’s strategic fund, which was set up to help bring new businesses to the area.

As proposed, the money would be contingent on Evergreen also securing an incentive grant from the Delaware Economic Development Office as well as an executed lease/purchase agreement between Evergreen and the owner of the McKee Road warehouse.

If approved, the county’s grant would be distributed over three years, with $20,000 being paid at the end of the first year of operations; $30,000 at the end of the second year; and the remainder at the end of the third year.

Evergreen also would have to meet employment goals at the end of each year, and have at least 52 employees on staff by the end of the third year. Five of those employees would be management staff already working for Evergreen, who would relocate to Dover.

Evergreen manufactures signs and residential and industrial lighting fixtures that use light emitting diodes instead of common incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. The LEDs are manufactured in China, and then shipped to Alberta to be assembled into the finished products. The company wants to move, Wolfensberger said, to take advantage of Dover’s East Coast location that provides easy distribution of Evergreen’s products a large number of customers.

“The view is this is a growing industry,” Wolfensberger said.

He added, however, that officials in Sussex County also are courting Evergreen, so time is of the essence in considering whether to provide the grant.

“They have been wanting to be here for the last six months,” Wolfensberger said, adding that if Levy Court approves the grant offer, Evergreen could start moving operations by the end of 2010.

The main point of contention in the discussion centered on the make up of the employees the company would hire once it settles in Dover. With their minds on reducing unemployment, commissioners wanted to ensure the majority of the manpower used at a Dover plant would come from area residents.

Most of the jobs at any Evergreen plant in Dover would be manufacturing positions, with pay in the $12- to $15-an-hour range, Wolfensberger said.

After some discussion, commissioners asked Wolfensberger to include a provision in any future agreement that at least 75% of the workforce be from Kent County. Commissioners also wanted him to ask city of Dover officials if they would consider additional incentives to bring the company to Kent County.

Wolfensberger is to work out this issue and return at a future committee meeting with a finalized package.

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