Berryville Graphics is a step closer to receiving over $400K in taxpayer funding thanks to a vote by the Berryville Town Council last night. The $467,200 in public grants includes a combination of state and local funding and comes with the expectation that the German-owned company will hire 85 new employees and invest in equipment at its Berryville location.
“Berryville Graphics is the largest employer in town,” said Berryville mayor Wilson Kirby after last night’s unanimous vote to authorize $94K of town funding for the matching grant. “The town of Berryville will benefit and we want to see them grow.”
Berryville Graphics is part of Bertelsmann AG, a German-owned worldwide corporation with interests in entertainment, publishing, printing and distribution. Berryville Graphics produces nearly 120 million books each year at its manufacturing facility in Berryville, Virginia.
Under the proposed cash infusion, which must also be ratified by both the Clarke County Board of Supervisors and the Industrial Development Authority of Clarke County, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s “Governor’s Opportunity Fund” will provide the Berryville Graphics with $200K along with $67K from the “Virginia Jobs Investment Program”.
The $200K of Commonwealth funds must be matched by local funds in order for the deal to happen. Last night’s $94K authorization represents 47% of the required matching funds with the remaining $106K to be considered for approval by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday.
The Clarke County Supervisors and Town officials met in closed session on Monday to discuss the deal but took no action following the meeting. Last night’s Town council meeting was the public’s first glimpse at the agreement between the Town, County and Commonwealth.
Under the resolution passed last night, the Town of Berryville will receive $94K from the Industrial Development Authority of Clarke County (IDA), which will act as the fiscal agent for both the state and local funds, to pay for its share of the deal. The funds will then be repaid by the town to the IDA over the subsequent three years beginning in 2013.
Town council member Mary Daniel (Ward 3) said that the Town would make the money back in three years based on economic benefit based on the additional hiring and taxes from new equipment that Berryville Graphics plans to install.
But while the 85 additional jobs will add a welcome boost to the local economy, the new hiring still places Berryville Graphics 33 employees below its 2009 employment position.
In January 2010 Berryville Graphics, eliminated 68 positions in a move designed to cut operating costs. The job cuts were aimed at shoring up the firm’s struggle to remain cost competitive in the global publishing industry. The company also released approximately 50 workers in May 2009 after a smaller layoff in January.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement between the Town and the County, Clarke County is tasked with monitoring Berryville Graphics for compliance with its investment and employment promises.
Terms of the performance agreement with Berryvillle Graphics were not disclosed at last night’s meeting.