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Archive for December, 2010

Employers Who Hired in 2010 Could Qualify for HIRE Act Tax Exemption

There is no doubt that those who have been hired in the last year are considered fortunate. The HIRE Act can help to extend that fortune to qualifying employers as well. The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act was put into place in March 2010. The intention was to motivate businesses to hire employees for new positions by offering tax incentives; not to mention creating employment for previously unemployed Americans. Businesses can take advantage of the 6.2% payroll incentive directly related to hiring employees and writing off investments in equipment.

Business owners who hired qualifying individuals before January 1, 2011 can reap the benefits. The 6.2% payroll incentive in essence is a tax exemption of the employer’s share of Social Security taxes on wages paid to these workers after March 18, 2010. Additionally, there is an employer tax credit of up to $1,000 per qualifying worker, and for small businesses the ability to write off equipment investments up to $250,000. The act will have no effect on the future of the employee’s Social Security and employers will still be able to withhold the 6.2% of Social Security. Medicare will still apply to wages.

Qualifying employees are defined as those who were:

  • hired between February 3, 2010 and January 1, 2011;
  • unemployed during the 60 days prior to starting work, or worked fewer than 40 hours for someone else during the 60 day period; and
  • able to provide proof of unemployment during the 60 days before beginning work, or worked no more than 40 hours during the 60 days before beginning work.

Though the deadline to hire has nearly expired, the incentives can still be taken advantage of. Small business that created new positions in the last year will especially see the benefits when utilizing the act. If a new hire was brought on to fill an existing position, the act can only be applied if the preceding employee left voluntarily or with cause. Family members and relatives do not qualify. Household employers cannot claim this tax benefit. To claim exemption, note the incentive on tax Form 941.

For more information please visit: www.hireact.org or www.irs.gov and search for HIRE Act.

Clement Pappas: The Company behind Your Favorite Juice

Clement Pappas officially arrived in Henderson County in 2001, with the purchase of the former Northland Cranberries facility located in the Mountain Home Industrial Park.  While the 220,000 square foot facility is largely hidden from highway traffic the average consumer likely encounters their product each and every time they visit the local supermarket. Since the company’s founding in 1942, Clement Pappas has established itself as the one of premier private label bottling companies in the world, bottling product for name brand labels as well as numerous private label brands found in many of the nation’s and most well known largest retailers.

During a recent visit to the company’s Mountain Home facility, Partnership staff met with the facility’s new plant manager Pete Szelwach. Szelwach has extensive experience in the juice and bottling industry. After serving several years at Tropicana/Pepsi in Florida, he is certainly no stranger to the juice industry. During our visit Szelwach explained that while Clement Pappas isn’t widely known to the everyday consumer our end products garner a lot of notoriety. “People are often surprised to learn that Clement Pappas is one of the nation’s largest bottling operations. The company operates five plants. In addition to this facility in western North Carolina the company operates plants in Seabrook, New Jersey, Springdale, Ark., Baltimore, Md., and a facility in Ontario, California.  As our customers have become national, they have had a desire for us to supply them nationally. Our locations allow us to efficiently serve their distribution centers.”

During a tour of the facility, Szelwach walked through the production process. “Products bottled in the Mountain Home facility run throughout the week and include apple juice, cranberry blends, grape products and a variety of other juices and juice drinks.” The facility receives both juice concentrates and single-strength juices in large container trucks specifically designed for high-use bulk products. The juice is stored in several large refrigerated storage tanks prior to being moved through the blending and bottling process. “The time between the products’ delivery and the final bottling process is quick, typically less than a week. This rapid process helps the plant deliver a product that is of extremely high quality.” After being placed in storage tanks the raw juice materials are blended according to each customer’s specified recipes. The batching process is automated, reducing the likelihood of mistakes. The blended product is pasteurized and heated to approximately 210° F, and then cooled to about 181° F for filling.”

According to Szelwach, one the most significant changes in the juice and bottling industry is the sheer number of bottling and labeling options available to our customers. Over the past several years many of the company’s customers have transitioned to rectangular bottles. “The bottles are more convenient for consumers because they are easy to handle and can be stored in the refrigerator door. They also benefit retailers and distributors because they require 20 percent less space than a round bottle.” To accommodate the new bottles, changes were made all the way through the production process, from conveying and bottling handling to labeling.

During the facility tour Szelwach explained that the process begins when pallets of empty bottles enter the receiving area. Employees depalletize and place the empties onto the filling line. A combiner uses a combination of gravity, pitch and belts that move the bottles into single-file.  The bottles travel to the filler where they are filled with juice. In order to ensure the product is safe and free of containments the juice is filled at an elevated temperature while simultaneously being capped. “The temperature is then gradually reduced — over a period of about 25 minutes — in a cooling tunnel.” The product is then labeled and packed in cardboard cases. The cases are palletized, stretch wrapped and outfitted with tags for inventory control purposes. Finished pallets are stored in warehouse space adjacent to the production building, and can be shipped within 48 hours of bottling.

At the conclusion of the tour Szelwach explained that the Clement Pappas brand is known for its quality control measures and commitment to efficiency. Throughout the process plant employees continually test and monitor the product. “If it does not meet our stringent quality assurance measures then we immediately correct the mistakes.” The facility’s 160 employees operate on a three shift rotation. “The company is always eager to find quality employees with high regard for quality and integrity,” Szelwach said. “As the incoming plant manager it is my goal to raise awareness of our brand and truly become an employer of choice; a company the community recognizes and somewhere potential employees want to work.”

Wingate University Announces Hendersonville Campus

“Win-git” or “win-gate”, say it how you will, but Wingate University is coming to town. The University announced in August they would like to open a Western North Carolina campus in Henderson County and with support from the Henderson County Board of Commissioners and Hendersonville City Council, the plan is coming together. Working alongside the Partnership, Wingate narrowed its search to downtown Hendersonville locations, and announced the ‘Hendersonville Campus’ on December 20th. Wingate will occupy the two-story, 11,056 sf building located at 220 5th Avenue.

After Wingate announced their desire to come to Henderson County, HCPED worked closely with the university to pinpoint minimum criteria for their location. The specified criteria included ideal parking, ample square-footage for growth, proximity to amenities and hospitals, minimal upfit requirements, and accessible transportation routes. Once the search parameters were established, an inventory was pulled together to identify and present potential sites. Feedback from property owners, commercial real estate agents and municipalities further identified existing buildings.

Wingate reviewed the gathered information and selected a handful of locations to tour. The university toured select locations in September, narrowing the search to two Hendersonville locations and finally selecting the 5th Avenue campus.

Building renovations will begin in January 2011. “Most of the facility meets our needs but it will require some technological improvement for distance education and a new laboratory for pharmacy,” said Wingate’s Vice President for Business and CFO Chuck Taylor. “We’re pleased to find such an appropriate location for our School of Pharmacy and other programs in the heart of downtown Hendersonville,” said Taylor.

The building will house a Pharmacy School, Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Physician Assistant Studies, pending approvals by their respective accrediting agencies. The expansion of the pharmacy school will meet the demand of the current program and work closely with Pardee Hospital and Park Ridge Health. The MBA program will offer a unique one-semester course to cover necessary prerequisite requirements for interested student prospects.