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Ralph Lauren : State cancels 2 job grants State cancels incentive grants for Inmar, Ralph Lauren

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01/12/2019 | 03:31am EDT

State economic officials have canceled incentive grants with two prominent Triad employers - Inmar Inc. and Ralph Lauren Corp. - for not meeting hiring goal pledges in recent years.

The performance-based grants were ended by the state's Economic Investment Committee at its first meeting for 2019, the News & Observer of Raleigh reported Friday.

Both Job Development Investment Grants (JDIG) were awarded in 2012 under the Perdue administration.

Neither Inmar nor Ralph Lauren provided immediate comment Friday when asked about the cancellations of the state incentive grants. Commerce officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

Companies are required to report annual capital investment and workforce reports to Commerce, but the workforce numbers can be almost two years old when released to the public. Companies say they have proprietary and competitive reasons for keeping the workforce numbers close to the vest.

Inmar announced in April 2012 that it had chosen to expand in Winston-Salem rather than move to Atlanta, signing a 15-year lease and pledging $62 million in capital investments. It committed to creating 212 jobs and retaining 761 employees, having a workforce of 973 at the end of a seven-year incentive commitment.

Inmar moved its entire local workforce into two former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. buildings off Seventh and Vine streets in March 2014.

In return, it was made eligible for up to $4.2 million in state incentives, up to $2.23 million in Winston-Salem incentives and up to $1.07 million in Forsyth County incentives.

Incentives typically are paid 12 to 24 months after capital investment and job creation commitments are met, along with jobs being maintained in subsequent years.

Although many companies receive annual incentive payments once they qualify, some have them stored in an escrow account or something similar.

For example, Inmar requested incentive payments from Forsyth for fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018 on Aug. 8, 2017. Winston-Salem economic officials could not be reached for current incentive data.

According to county incentive data, Inmar met its fiscal 2017 commitments of $25 million in capital investments (having spent $53.7 million).

However, it was 27 jobs short of the goal of 858 jobs retained and created. As a result, Inmar received an incentive payment of $191,021 - $2,909 below the maximum payment.

For fiscal 2018, Inmar again had surpassed the capital investment commitment - this time of $51.5 million by having spent $54 million cumulatively.

It was short on a workforce pledge of 892 retained and created jobs by 37. The incentive payment was reduced accordingly by $4,006 at $189,160.

The fiscal 2019 commitments were for $55 million in cumulative capital investments and 919 jobs.

"We have not yet made a payment for fiscal 2019," Kyle Haney, administrator of the county's economic development program, said Friday. "That will be based on employment through the end of 2017."

Inmar had paid a combined $774,191 in taxes on the capital investments for the two fiscal years.

Officials told the Raleigh newspaper that Inmar received one state grant payment of $126,674.

"The company was not in compliance on its new job creation target, and their ramp up (or base period), which had been extended, was at its end," Commerce spokesman David Rhoades said. "The grant did require a fairly large number of existing employees to be retained as well."

For Ralph Lauren, the company pledged in June 2012 to create 500 jobs in High Point over five years as part of a $142 million capital investment expansion.

Ralph Lauren received three grant payments totaling $451,409, Rhoades said.

It was the company's fourth - and largest - expansion in High Point. It also pledged to add 400 jobs in November 2010 as part of a $21 million capital investment. At the time of the June 2012 expansion, Ralph Lauren had 1,442 employees in the city.

For the June 2012 expansion, the company was made eligible for up to $3.2 million in local incentives and up to $2.5 million from JDIG.

Commerce officials told the Raleigh newspaper that Ralph Lauren had received $451,409 in state incentives over three years.

Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corp., said the city authorized up to $2.4 million in incentives to Ralph Lauren for the November 2010 and June 2012 expansions.

Hill said Ralph Lauren has been paid a combined $1.95 million for the expansions with another $442,000 remaining in the agreement.

"I'll know if they qualified for that remaining payment whenever they next make a submission," Hill said. "It's likely they will qualify."

Since the 2012 expansion announcement, Ralph Lauren has confirmed eliminating at least 107 jobs in High Point and has about 1,200 employees in the city, according to Commerce.

The company has moved out of a 340,000-square-foot facility at 4190 Eagle Hill Drive in High Point. The facility was taken over by Hanesbrands Inc. in November.

It sold on Dec. 28 its 655,095-square-foot distribution center at 4100 Beechwood Drive in Piedmont Centre for $20 million to Fastenal.

Inmar and Ralph Lauren become the latest corporations to have state incentive packages canceled, joining Innovative Emergency Management, Victra/ABC Phones, and BSH.

rcraver@wsjournal.com 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

© © Copyright 2019, Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem, NC, source Newspapers

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