Less than two years after receiving its last tax incentive check from Pitt County, a manufacturing plant in Greenville is ending production permanently, closing the door on 475 jobs.
Workers at DENSO Manufacturing reportedly were told of the company’s plans to cease operations at the facility last week.
DENSO’s Greenville facility manufactures wiper motor linkages, arm and blades and radiator fan motors. Company officials said the facility will close by January 2023 because of the changing trends in the automotive industry.
“As the automotive industry turns its focus to smart and self-driving vehicle technology, we have found it increasingly difficult to cost-effectively produce conventional motors and systems at the site,” DENSO Manager of Corporate Communications Bridgette LaRose said in a statement. “Those products will move to DENSO locations that can support multi-product business as their demand decreases.”
DENSO first set up shop in Greenville in 1993 and by 2020 had employed 900 people. It expanded its facility in 2013 when the company promised to hire 200 local employees and invest $50 million in exchange for more than $100,000 to $187,000 in tax incentives each year for eight years. The Pitt County Development Commission presented the last check for $187,394 to DENSO in June 2020. DENSO also received a discretionary grant from the state.
Government agencies use investment grants and tax incentives to attract large companies and jobs. Critics of the incentives say they allow the government to pick winners and losers, arguing the companies would have selected the area for development without incentives. North Carolina is the home of NASCAR and more than 260 automotive companies, according to The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
Pitt County Development Director Kelly Andrews said when DENSO expanded in 2013, the county still was trying to recover from the last recession, and the incentive, along with DENSO’s investment, helped stimulate the economy.
“That was when they announced a $50 million expansion, which they actually exceeded investing over $50 million and adding 200 jobs,” Andrews said. “I think in that way that it did what we set out for it to do. Now eight, nine years later, the closing is certainly disappointing, but I think that at the time we did what we felt like we needed to do to stimulate the economy.”
According to the U.S. Census, Greenville has 87,521 residents and 63% of the population is part of the labor force. The median income is $40,875.
DENSO officials said the employees from the Greenville location could apply for open positions at other DENSO facilities, and they will be offered competitive severance packages and other support.
The county also is looking at ways to lend support to workers who will be laid off. Andrews hopes the county’s investments in training will keep the workers in Greenville.
“Obviously, it’s a blow when you had a company here for almost 30 years,” Andrews said. “We need to figure out and help them transition to new jobs.”
This article was originally posted on North Carolina manufacturing company to close, cutting 475 jobs