Should Dell come to Guilford County, it will pump nearly as much money into the local economy as the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, an economist told the county commissioners Thursday night.

And make no mistake, Guilford County commissioners want the company here, not somewhere in the Triad."That's a bunch of hooey," said Commissioner Mike Barber. "We don't want Forsyth to get it. We want Guilford County to get it."

To that end, the commissioners passed a $7.1 million package of tax rebates and other economic development incentives. Greensboro and High Point are expected to offer money to help lure Dell to one of three sites in the county.

Competing incentive packages have been offered by Forsyth and Davidson counties. North Carolina already has offered $242 million in incentives, no matter where the company locates in the Triad.

The Guilford County vote was 9-2 Thursday, with commissioners Billy Yow and Steve Arnold voting against the package. Both are vocal opponents of such incentive packages, but neither spoke against it Thursday.

"I decided to let it go," Yow said.

No one spoke against the package during the public hearing.

"These numbers are staggering to the public," said Commissioner Mary Rakestraw after economic developers made the request for millions in taxpayer money to go to the company. "We're talking about adult money here. But we're also talking about adult returns."

Before their vote, UNCG economist Andrew Brod told the commissioners that the company's impact on the local economy would be close to $4 billion during the next five years.

He explained that the number includes the "multiplier effects" of the company building a $100 million plant that employs 1,500 people. That multiplier includes not only the money that Dell and its employees would pump into the economy, but also takes into account money generated from other businesses and jobs that are drawn to Dell, such as the company's suppliers.

By comparison, the semiannual furniture market's impact is estimated to be about $1 billion each year.

Brod also estimated that between 4,900 and 6,300 jobs would be created in addition to the 1,500 employees Dell promises to hire.

Jack Cozort, a Raleigh-area attorney, spoke on behalf of Dell, but no company officials attended Thursday's meeting.

"They just asked me to come because I'm local," he said, noting that the actual incentive request was made by local economic developers. "It certainly is no sign of any disrespect."

During the meeting, Cozort told commissioners that Dell wanted to open its plant before the end of 2005.

"What they will manufacture there will be desktop computers primarily for the East Coast of the United States," he said.

Commissioners Carolyn Coleman and Linda Shaw asked whether the company would rely on part-time workers.

Cozort said the company's goal was to hire mainly full-time workers, but it would use part-time temporary help during busy seasons, such as the Christmas shopping season.

After the vote, Commissioner Jeff Thigpen gave one last exaltation, "Give 'em Dell," drawing a smattering of laughs.

In other business, the commissioners:

* passed a resolution supporting the construction of a youth prison and treatment center by the N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

George Sweat, the head of that department, told the commissioners that the state's new $5 million, 32-bed center would look like a treatment center but would be secured like a prison.

It would be near the Department of Transportation maintenance yard on Sandy Camp Road. The legislature must approve the funds next year.

So far this year, Sweat said, 23 Guilford County youths have been committed to state facilities.

Yow and Arnold voted against the project.

* approved a 3 percent raise for County Manager Willie Best. That vote was 7-4, with Arnold, Shaw, Yow and Trudy Wade voting against.

\ Contact Mark Binker at 373-7023 or mbinker@news-record.com

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