City approves incentive pledge

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 07:56 PM

City Council members have approved another business-incentive package, this time a $600,000 offer to a pharmaceutical company that’s planning an expansion that could bring with it 179 jobs.

Officials said the county government will match the city’s pledge to Argos Therapeutics Inc., and the state will quadruple it. That makes package worth up to $3.6 million to the company.

The deal will “allow city to retain a company that is focused in several of the key industries which we covet,” said Kevin Dick, director of the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

Council members voted for the offer 6-0. Mayor Bill Bell was absent.

“It’s great to hear the job total is going up,” Councilman Steve Schewel said, alluding to a comment by Dick that noted the expansion was originally supposed to bring 118 jobs.

Argos already is based in Durham and currently employs 90 people.

The company specializes in cancer HIV treatments and is one of the firms that’s trying to tailor its cancer drugs to the genetic profile of the tumor they’re supposed to fight.

The incentive money will pay for the lease and refit of a 112,000-square-foot building on T.W. Alexander Drive.

As usual, the city is funding the deal in effect by giving Argos some of the tax revenue that officials expect the expansion to generate.

The city’s pledge is due in installments over seven years. “No money is paid out until the building is complete,” Dick said.

He added that the city expects about $1.7 million in additional tax revenue from Argos over 10 years.

Durham is competing for the project with five other North Carolina counties, a site in the Orlando, Fla., area and a site in Quebec, officials said.