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Mills River OKs tax breaks for herbal supplement maker

MILLS RIVER — A Brevard-based distributor of herbal supplements is hoping to expand its footprint in Henderson County, consolidating leased spaces into a new $10 million facility at Broadpointe Industrial Park that will generate up to 30 jobs over three years.
Gaia Herbs, a nationally recognized producer of herbal supplements, plans to move operations from Brevard and East Flat Rock into Broadpointe and continue operations at an existing facility in Mills River. It plans to invest $10.7 million in the building and $1.5 million in furnishings and equipment for a total of $12.2 million.
The Mills River Town Council on Thursday agreed to $42,700 in economic development incentives over five years in the form of property tax rebates. The promised jobs would pay an average annual wage of $39,600 plus benefits. The company currently has 260 employees, including 30 in Henderson County.
The herbal supplement maker cited the location next to the Asheville Regional Airport as a positive factor. The new facility would contain a bottling operation, warehousing and order fulfillment plus offices and support staff, said Brian Traylor, vice president of operations. The company's headquarters, manufacturing operations and farm will remain in Brevard.
“It’s large enough we’re able to start with a facility that meets our needs for the near future and still gives us the opportunity to expand our footprint in that area,” Traylor told the council. It’s an advantage, too, to be across the road from the N.C. State University agriculture research station on Old Fanning Bridge Road.
“It really lines up well with who we are what we already doing, considering we have a large farm ourself,” he said.
The Henderson County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to take up a separate tax incentives request from Gaia Herbs and the Partnership for Economic Development next month.
The company would break ground in August and complete the facility by the fall of 2019 if it closes on the sale, Traylor said.
Marketing manager Aimee Sprinkel described the company as a “seed to shelf” enterprise that carefully cultivates all of its plants and harvests the plants when they’re ready, not when the business side needs to fill an order.
“At Gaia we actually go out and see if the plants are ready,” she said. “We work with mother nature. We don’t force mother nature.”
Councilman Richmond Meadows said he had followed the company for years in Transylvania County.
“Ya’ll have grown from a little bitty something to a whole lot of something,” he said.