By John Peters
September 10, 2013
Last week the community learned that the CEO of Awesome Products, L.D. Hardas, had pleaded guilty to six counts of misrepresenting facts to the California State Compensation Insurance Fund and to three counts of misrepresenting facts to a workers’ compensation insurance company.
Many will recall that Awesome Products was greeted with much fanfare earlier this year when the firm announced it would locate a facility in Mount Airy, eventually agreeing to create 140 jobs locally — with the hope for eventually expanding that to 300 positions, in exchange for more than a half-million dollars in financial incentives from Surry County and another $300,000 from the state.
So, where does that leave Mount Airy and Surry County? Hopefully in no different place. If Hardas is guilty — and it would appear he is, given his plea and deal with the California courts, then that is a matter between him and the authorities there.
Certainly local officials should proceed with caution, making doubly sure Awesome Products is fulfilling its obligations as it receives local and state financial incentives, but as long as the firm does that Mount Airy and Surry County officials should do nothing differently regarding this project.
That’s not to turn a blind eye to the events in California, but the idea of a business owner or manager running afoul of tax laws is hardly unprecedented. Locally we’ve seen some respected business owners do the same, finding themselves on the wrong end of legal action by North Carolina authorities, yet they have continued on as upstanding, contributing members of the community.
We see no reason for Hardas and Awesome Products to be treated any differently. As long as local officials are cautious with those incentives, and Awesome Products fulfills its local obligations, Hardas and the business should still be welcomed into the local business community with open arms.