Greensboro council approves incentives for low-wage jobs

The Greensboro City Council might be sharply divided on issues such as solid waste, but on the matter of a small economic incentives request – $37,500 to Springfield Service Corp., owned by Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. – the members voted unanimously for approval with no discussion.

The company plans to create 75 new jobs for clerical workers tasked with billing patients and insurance companies on behalf of Cone Health System. An additional 25 jobs will transition from the hospital system to the service provider, which will occupy vacant office space on West Market Street.

The jobs will pay an average wage of $28,130. In comparison, the average wage in Guilford County is $40,560.

Assistant City Manager Andy Scott told council members that the jobs don’t meet the average wage requirement in the city’s economic incentives policy, but staff asked council to waive the requirement, which is permissible in the policy.

“Based on the high unemployment rate in Guilford County we are recommending that you approve this grant,” Scott told council.

After the vote, Scott explained that considering that the wages paid for the new jobs are only about 60 percent of the county’s average wage, the company stands to receive only 50 percent of the typical grant: $500 per job as opposed to $1,000.

“While we love the better paying jobs, we do have people at the skill level [that need the low-wage jobs],” Scott said.

Another factor that led staff to recommend the incentive grant, he said, was the fact that the company will occupy vacant office space.

The grant also waives a requirement that the company invest a minimum of $7 million. In this case, the company is investing $350,000.

The city has waived the average wage requirement once before. In 2009, the council approved an incentive grant to LabCorp, which pledged in exchange to create billing operations jobs at a site near Four Seasons Town Centre that would pay 70 percent of the average county wage. In that instance, council voted to approve the full amount of $1,000 per job. The decision was based on the company agreeing to site the operation in a high-poverty Urban Progress Zone.

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