Spinoff biz might make 30 jobs here

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Hale Hawkins of Lewisburg Printing, left, and City Economic Director Greg Lowe, right, at Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board meeting watch for reactions to the proposed payment in lieu of property taxes agreement recommended by the IDB.

Thirty jobs are to be created in connection with Hawk Converting, a business grown from Lewisburg Printing through the pending purchase of a large paper-cutting machine.

After obtaining a recommendation for a property tax break agreement from Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board on Monday, businessman Hale Hawkins of Lewisburg Printing explained his plan.

Hawkins' family business has created Hawk Converting to be located in a building in Lewisburg that's not been selected yet, he said. A Marquip Sheeter-brand machine is to be purchased to receive large rolls of paper and cut them into sheets of paper.

The largest sheets would be about 80 inches long and 51 inches wide, Hawkins said. Paper thickness would range from about as thin as a piece of notebook paper to what's called thick board.

Sheets of paper cut to a customer's desired size would be suitable for wrapping or pressing into packaging for food.

That simple process isn't unique. If it's not the only one operated in the Southeast part of the United States, the machine Hawkins plans to buy would be one of only a very few.

In Murfreesboro, the same simple process is conducted by a French company that receives rolls of steel that are cut into sheets that are then stamped into parts such as, for example, a frame for a stereo system or parts in a refrigerator.

"I hope to have it soon," Hawkins said of the paper cutter.

A price for the machine was still being negotiated, he said.

Lewisburg Economic Developer Greg Lowe presented Hawkins' proposal to the IDB during its monthly meeting in City Hall. The panel unanimously voted to recommend a tax break agreement contract to the City Council. It was to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The contract is called a PILOT Agreement. A Payment In Lieu Of Taxes Agreement includes a schedule of payments calculated on the typical property tax liability, but it starts low and grows into the full cost.

For example, a five-year agreement could start with no payment, but at the end of the second year, the PILOT liability would be 20 percent of what would be paid in property taxes. The percentage would grow with another 20 percent added annually until a full property tax bill would be paid in the sixth year.

Prospective employees for Hawk Converting should make inquiries at the Career Center at Columbia State Community College on South Ellington Parkway, Hawkins said.

A similar program was granted for Ace Bayou this winter, but the corporate structure and ownership arrangement of the building the business is buying from Sanford required amendments. As a result, the contract was rewritten and presented to the IDB Monday for adoption by the council on Tuesday.