Council vote for jobs incentive

Friday, November 18, 2011

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Christian Brands - the company making candles and jewelry in Lewisburg's Business Park, where it has call center operators and a distribution hub - is thinking about buying the city's spec building.

"The company is looking at acquiring another business and it's looking to move it to the Lewisburg Business Park," City Economic Developer Greg Lowe told Lewisburg councilmen before they sanctioned another property tax deferment.

The deferment is a Payment In Lieu Of Tax Agreement. Such PILOT agreements have been granted for CKNA in the city's industrial park and the Arby's restaurant on North Ellington Parkway. Increasing annual payments are made - instead of whole tax bills -until the total obligation is paid as a tax bill on a regular annual schedule.

Christian Brands' owners "wanted to be sure" that Lewisburg would be providing the incentive, Lowe said during the council's regular monthly meeting last week.

The company acquired Heartfelt Home Accents in August, and as the company's intention to grow more proceeds, Heartfelt Home Accents is seen as a prospective resident of Lewisburg's Business Park. If so, it would have 25 jobs where ever the plant is located.

The parent company's leaders have been deciding "whether to build new, or buy the spec building," Lowe said.

Lowe's predecessor, Terry Wallace, obtained funding from the city to build a metal building in the Business Park. It's referred to as a spec building because it was built on speculation that there was a buyer. The $1.4 million "spec building" received site plan approval from Lewisburg's Planning Commission in June 2008, and construction began that summer.

The PILOT agreement approved for Christian Brands would last 10 years, meaning an amount valued at 10 percent of the property tax obligation would be the first payment and the amount would increase by 10 percent of the bill each year until the whole bill is paid annually.

Such agreements have been justified by officials saying that if there was no development, there would be no increased tax base.