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Kannapolis leaders set federal legislative priorities

February 28, 2015

By Michael Knox | mknox@independenttribune.com

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — City officials, hoping to sustain growth, are pushing federal legislators to continue supporting economic development.

On the city’s 2015 Federal Legislative Priorities list, presented at last week’s city council meeting by City Manager Mike Legg, economic development was near the top of the list.

“We will talk, when we are in DC, to our congressional delegation and to our federal staffers about potential projects locally, one being the [Rowan Community College] advance technology center … a contract manufacturing facility on the research campus we are starting to pursue,” he said.

“Now that the country is back from economic collapse, strong partnerships between federal, state and local governments can put our nation on a path to a bright future by out-innovating, out-building and out-educating our rivals,” the priorities list states.

The document also states that many federal economic development programs have been in jeopardy of substantial cuts, and that federal legislators need to show support for those programs to help develop projects in Kannapolis.

Other items on the priorities list include:

» Federal research and development investments that would benefit the public and private university efforts on the North Carolina Research Campus.

» Continued funding of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant programs at current or increased levels. To date, Kannapolis has received more than $12 million in grants, among them funding for the Kannapolis Gateway Business Park, which created more than 300 jobs; Village Park improvements; and down-payment assistance for more than 20 first-time, low-to-moderate-income home buyers.

» Tax-exempt financing. The City of Kannapolis opposes any measure by the federal government to limit the traditional tax exemption of municipal bonds. Kannapolis officials cited that with federal officials looking for ways to reduce the deficit they may look at those tax exemptions that local municipalities need. With the current tax exemption, cities can issue bonds with interest payments 2 percentage points lower than on taxable bonds.

In 2010, the City of Kannapolis used $30 million in tax exempt bonds to finance the improvements needed for the development of the Research Campus, and in 2014 the city used $35 million in tax exempt bonds for the new City Hall and Kannapolis Police Department, along with other improvements.

» Sales tax equality, which would level the playing field between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retailers by giving state and local governments the authority to collect taxes on remote sales.

» Federal investment in transportation infrastructure, which “drives local economies, which drive the nation,” according to the document. “Targeting infrastructure spending directly to local governments will not only create jobs, but also lay the foundation for long-term benefits in communities.”

» Utility infrastructure programs: “The nation’s utility infrastructure is in desperate need of replacement, repair and expansion to facilitate new economic growth and prosperity.

The city supports funding resources to help address the more than $45 million in water, sanitary sewer and stormwater projects identified in the city’s 7-year capital improvement plan.”

» Support for continued funding of grants for fire departments and law enforcement agencies: Since 2007, Kannapolis has received $3.5 million in grants for the Kannapolis Police Department and Kannapolis Fire Department.

Contact reporter Michael Knox at 704-789-9133

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