Gov. Bev Perdue and the N.C. Commerce Department have a curious practice when it comes to announcing economic incentives linked to job creation.
When a company brings jobs that match or exceed a county's annual average wage, their press releases mention it. When the wages are less, as in the case of today's announcement, there typically is no such mention.
Today they announced that Advanced Textile Solutions will open a plant in Caldwell County and create 127 jobs as part of a $500,000 investment over the next three years. For that, the company will get $127,000 from the One North Carolina Fund.
Those jobs will pay an average annual wage of $19,111, the first time the state has offered the One NC money for jobs paying on average less than $20,000 a year. Caldwell County's annual average wage in 2008, the most recent year available from the Employment Security Commission, was $29,756.13.
So these jobs are paying on average $10,000 less than Caldwell County's annual average; they also amount to little more than roughly $2 dollars above the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Commerce spokeswoman Kathy Neal said the $127,000 is a worthwhile investment because the county's unemployment rate is high -- nearly 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009. But she did not provide much explanation as to why the announcements choose to drop the fact that these jobs could well bring down a county's annual average wage, which doesn't sound like much of an economic bang for the taxpayer buck.
"The information Commerce provides to the Governor’s Press Office usually includes the average wage if it is at or near the wage of the new jobs," Neal said in an e-mail message.
The deal isn't done yet, as my colleage John Murawski reported. The One NC grant requires a local match, which would bring the government assistance up to $254,000. Caldwell County's commissioners have yet to vote on the local share.