While negotiations are ongoing between local economic development officials and an unnamed company on a project that could bring hundreds of manufacturing jobs to the area, reports in the Triangle Business Journal (subscription required) and the Sanford Herald that the company’s investment would be worth an eye-popping $1.5 billion do not appear to be correct.
While the Triangle Business Journal identified the company as being part of the India-based Kalyani Group, local economic development officials said they weren’t at liberty to say whether that was the case because no agreement has been finalized. The project, known to date as “Project Forge,” has been before both the Lee County Board of Commissioners and the Sanford City Council this week, when the bodies both approved incentive packages that include the purchase of land for the company if it agrees to locate here.
But details in the agenda packets for both meetings show a potential investment that, while still significant, is nowhere near the $1.5 billion reported by the Triangle Business Journal.
“The proposed economic development project consists of building an industrial building and the purchase of machinery and equipment in the amount up to $170.9 million,” reads the proposal. A notice for the meeting which includes the $170.9 million number appeared in the August 8 edition of the Herald.
For comparison, the announcement this week by Pfizer (subscription required) that it was adding 300 new jobs to a gene therapy facility at its Sanford plant – without any new incentives – represented $500 million in tax base investment. A project triple that size would be astronomical, economic development officials told the Rant.
“We have active projects looking at us and they’re large companies, but there’s nothing in (the $1.5 billion) ballpark,” Sanford Area Growth Alliance CEO Michael Smith said Friday morning. “But when you look at the projects that we have that are active right now, it’s an amazing number. And to be able to make the Pfizer announcement and be having this discussion in the same week is incredible – it would be incredible to do both of those in the same year.”
The TBJ report indicates that other “Southeastern states including Tennessee and Kentucky” are being considered for the project, which “may be looking for a site to host an auto parts manufacturing operation.”
The Kalyani Group is described on its website as a $3 billion conglomerate with a 10,000-person global workforce. It houses multiple firms under its umbrella – with several touchpoints to the automotive sector, from forging to parts manufacturing. Those entities include names such as Bharat Forge and Automotive Axles Limited.
“Developing our own technology, constantly improving our technical processes, adopting the latest manufacturing processes and continuously training our workforce to create a talent factory has been the cornerstone of our success and has contributed towards making us a leading automotive forging company in India,” the company states on its website.