Town and County Extend Amazon Incentives Grant
SMITHFIELD – Johnston County Commissioners and the Smithfield Town Council both have approved grant extensions for the new Amazon facility, which failed to open this year as originally planned.
In May 2021, local officials and Amazon announced the new 620,000 square foot warehousing facility would be operation in 2022 and employee 500 people with a starting wage of $15 an hour.
Amazon received tax grant incentives for a 7 year period beginning in 2023. It required the giant retail firm to make a $100 million investment in the plant and infrastructure and create a minimum of 500 new permanent full-time jobs. Amazon has fulfilled the financial investment portion of the grant but hasn’t opened the facility or hired workers.
Commissioners and council members agreed to extend the grant an additional two years, starting in 2025 instead of 2023.
Mike Limburg with Amazon appeared before the Smithfield town board Nov. 14 confirming the company still plans to locate in Smithfield. Due to economic conditions and the global retail supply chain, Limburg said there have been delays.
Limburg said plans are to open the warehouse by the end of the first quarter in 2024 with hiring to begin about 60 days before the opening, then scale up to 500 jobs within a short amount of time.
Limburg said the building is complete, material handling equipment is installed, and equipment is being tested.
Councilman Sloan Stevens felt the Town held up to its side of the agreement and Amazon should hold up to their side of the deal. Stevens said other small businesses were not getting the incentives Amazon was receiving. In a 6-to-1 vote, with Councilman Stevens voting against, the grant extension was approved.
Mayor Andy Moore defended the company saying it was a win-win for everyone and the town was already receiving property tax revenue from the W. Market Street plant, even though it hasn’t opened.