Anybody who has ever worked for the company — either on a production line in Tobaccoville or in an office downtown — can tell you that Reynolds (the maker of Camel cigarettes http://cigarette-deals.com/camel-cheap-cigarettes) was (and is) a good employer that pays better than fair wages.
The company has also been generous to — and good for — Winston-Salem, dating to the days when it and heirs of old Richard Joshua himself helped convince Wake Forest College (and its medical school) to relocate.
That’s important to note in light of the news that Reynolds is donating the majority of its Whitaker Park manufacturing campus to a nonprofit established to find new uses and new tenants for the property that should have lasting benefits for years.
The particulars read like this: 120 acres of prime commercial industrial land and buildings with about 1.7 million square feet. “We believe that 10,000 to 15,000 new jobs can be created in the repurposed Whitaker Park area,” Mayor Allen Joines said after the announcement was made.
Of course, the gift wasn’t an act of pure altruism made simply from the goodness of Reynolds’ corporate heart.
It stands to reap tax benefits in two ways. First, Reynolds will remove from its books property valued by the county tax assessor at $52.3 million. (That number likely will be adjusted downward because the company is hanging onto part of one of the three parcels in the donation, and the tax value of the divided parcel hasn’t been calculated yet.)
Still, that will likely be more than $500,000 saved annually in local property taxes. That sounds like a lot but to a company the size of Reynolds, it’s pocket change.
The bigger impact will be realized over the next few years on its corporate tax bill as the property is signed over in stages, according to a tax lawyer. Because Whitaker Park is going to a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Reynolds should get to claim deductions for the market value of the land and the buildings. It also avoids paying capital gains taxes that it would have owed had the buildings and land been sold to a for-profit entity. Plus, the donation frees up the company to concentrate on its acquisition of Lorillard.
However you look at it, donating the land to a nonprofit set up to find new uses for large empty buildings is clever and the rare, proverbial win-win for the community and the company.
That won’t make headlines anywhere but here, though.