Companies looking to relocate to Wake County can invest less and still qualify for a business investment grant — as long as they create new, high-paying jobs.
The Wake County Commissioners Monday approved a change to the Business Investment Grant that lowers the minimum capital investment, but requires that new jobs include salaries double the county’s average median income.
The change was to accommodate MetLife, which had shown interest late last year in relocating to Cary to open a global technology and operations hub. MetLife plans to invest $85 million, falling short of the $100 million requirement for the Wake County grant.
Established Wake County business can get by with a lower investment threshold if they have a taxable value of $75 million.
The grant also requires that at least 50 new full-time jobs are created. Those jobs must have wages that are 120 percent of the county’s average annual income. Today, Wake County’s average annual wage is about $45,400.
Those requirements would stay the same, but Commissioners have added an allowance for companies that are creating high-paying jobs.
While MetLife plans on only investing $85 million into its new hub, it would hire 1,200 employees making average annual salaries of $112,000.
Companies that would invest $50 million and create at least 250 jobs with annual salaries of 200 percent the annual salary of your average Wake County worker, or $181,200 a year, would also be eligible for the grant.
County Manager David Cooke said that this grant has been used a limited number of times; NetApp and Novartis were two of the grant recipients.
Other companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Fidelity insurance were also approved for grants, but were never paid because they failed to meet the requirements.
Cooke said that no grant payments are made until the investment is on the ground and property taxes are paid.