In July 2006, two venerable company names — Chris-Craft and Indian Motorcycle — were confirmed to be part of a package deal in which both would open facilities in North Carolina. The companies are both properties of Stellican Limited, a London-based equity firm that specializes in the acquisition and revival of distressed companies with famous brand names.
The two facilities represent an investment of approximately $42 million. Together, these facilities are expected to create 807 jobs over the next two years. At Chris-Craft, the average annual pay for the newly created positions will be $32,000, plus benefits. At Indian Motorcycle, the average annual pay will be $47,000, plus benefits. Both these figures compare well to the Cleveland County average annual pay of $28,000, not including benefits.
The new jobs are welcome news in Cleveland County, which had an unemployment rate in 2005 of 7.1 percent, when the state average was 4.7 percent. During the site selection process, the pool of workers was tested with a blind classified ad. The number and quality of the responses was encouraging to the companies, particularly Chris-Craft. “This state has a workforce with the skills we need to build boats. Former furniture makers and woodworkers are ideal employees for us,” said Stephen Heese, Chris-Craft president.
Each company was approved for a grant from the One North Carolina Fund. For Chris-Craft, the grant was $250,000. For Indian Motorcycle, the grant was $100,000. Both of these state-approved grants were contingent on the approval of local grants. These were provided by Cleveland County, which met its matching obligations with a $970,000 grant for the two projects.
Additional incentives were provided by a performance-based Job Development Investment Grant, which is based on a percentage of withholding taxes paid by the new company employees. If the companies create all of the jobs called for under the agreement and sustain them for ten years, Chris-Craft and Indian Motorcycle could receive a combined maximum benefit of $7.56 million.