FLORENCE - Local manufacturers considering hiring a new employee now have 1,500 more reasons to do so.
The Shoals Industrial Development Committee agreed Thursday to dedicate $75,000 toward an incentive program that provides manufacturers $1,500 per new hire, up to five employees.
At $1,500 each, $75,000 brings the potential to provide incentives for 50 jobs.
The idea for the Employment Growth Program came from the Shoals Economic Development Authority.
Macke Mauldin, representing SEDA’s board, told the committee the concept of the program is to help small-sized manufacturing operations.
“This is a way we can reach the smaller companies that aren’t getting access to SIDC Funds,” Mauldin said.
Among requirements of the plan:
The company’s employment levels cannot decrease within a year after receiving the funds.
The hiring wage either must be the entry-level wage for that position or at least $11 per hour.
The company must prove it has hired the employee or employees within 90 days of approval for the program.
Mauldin said this provides small companies with a fast track for funding and an easier application process than the one involving large incentives for large industries.
Applicants must meet the same qualifications of those industries that have access to SIDC funding, Mauldin said. That limits it mainly to manufacturing industries.
The industrial development committee, which includes elected leaders from the Shoals, distributes money obtained from a half-cent sales tax increase that was approved in 2007 for Colbert and Lauderdale counties. The money must go toward job creation.
Funding for the Employment Growth Program is for one year. After that, committee members will assess its success and decide whether to continue it.
Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford commended SEDA officials for the idea.
“A lot of times the little manufacturer feels nobody notices or appreciates them,” Sanford said.
Florence Mayor Bobby Irons said it’s worth giving the program a chance.
“It’s another good, creative way to reach the small businesses, and it’s a one-year test,” Irons said.
SEDA board member Marty Abroms, who was one of the creators of the growth program, has noted the state of Alabama has a similar program through the state’s Full Employment Act of 2011. The state offers a $1,000 business tax credit for small businesses, and it is not limited to certain manufacturing-related employers, he said.
Under the state program, companies with 50 or fewer employees that hire a worker at a salary of more than $10 an hour are eligible. Shoals industries that receive funding under the state program still would be eligible for the local program.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.