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Grant money for Stiletto subject of aldermen meeting

A $100,000 grant to the Town of Columia may be returned to the state unused, Rhett White, Columbia’s town manager, told the board of aldermen Feb. 5.

“I don’t see them using this grant,” White said of Stiletto Manufacturing Inc. on South Water Street.

White told the board of aldermen the grant was for the purpose of retrofitting and remodeling the big gray building near Scuppernong River bridge and for employing 20 people to build and outfit Stiletto catamaran sailboats.

“The jobs are there,” White said, “he (Jay Phillips) has met the requirements.”

Changes, including a structural addition, in the firm’s initial plans to build boats are planned.

The boat firm has spent $4,562.19 of $5,000 appropriated by the town in conjunction with the state grant. The money went to upgrade the building, and the town holds Scott McLaughlin’s promissory note for its investment in the property, White said. McLaughlin owns the building and land.

The manager added that the building has “fire code issues” and also that Stiletto has 11 boat orders to be filled.

White told the board in mid-January, “The town has made a significant effort to get this business up and running.”

“We want to use the grant,” Phillips said Feb. 12. “Rhett must have misunderstood. I am negotiating now with the landowner about some planned improvements to the building.”

Phillips said he has seven boats on order to be completed by summer, one by Feb. 23, and there have been some delays in funding from a venture capital company.