Employment development continues

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

New jobs are coming to Lewisburg with the sale of a building constructed by the city to help attract employers, according to discussion at Marshall County commissioners' meeting Monday.

A Japanese automotive supply company would employ 25 people in its first year and up to 100 in five years, County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett said, adding, "We feel like that's being conservative" on the jobs projection.

While the city owns the building, county cooperation reveals the pending sale because the sale is in connection with a state economic development grant and if the county participates, the local cost of the matching grant is four percent lower.

"We feel like we're headed in the right direction when you can make announcements like this," Liggett said. "The hope is that they will be in there in the fall."

Like other industrial prospects, the Japanese company is not immediately named. It's identified as Project Now, Liggett said. Last year, Project Cloud was revealed to be Imperial Foods, a business that's being developed in the city's I-65 Commerce Park.

An announcement with such detail is being delayed until all the paperwork is done, Liggett said while discussing what county commissioners unanimously approved to attract another employer to reduce unemployment here.

On a request from Commission Chairman Nathan Johnson, commissioners suspended rules Monday night to permit consideration of a resolution so the county may apply for a Fast Track infrastructure improvement program grant through Tennessee's Department of Economic and Community Development.

Late last week, Lewisburg Economic Development Director Greg Lowe spoke with Liggett about how the county could help the city apply for the grant, the county mayor told commissioners during their open meeting. If the county applies for the grant, then the local participation is 18 percent instead of 22 percent, Liggett said.

Similar cooperation came for Imperial Foods. On Monday, commissioners voted to pay half of the amount required from local government for the matching grant that's to pay for the extension of utilities to the city building in I-65 Commerce Park. A specific dollar amount was not available Monday night, but Liggett anticipated the grant would be for approximately $200,000 to $250,000.

Making the decision Monday avoids having to call a special meeting of the commission, Liggett said.

Additional information is anticipated at city meetings of the Industrial Development Board, chaired by Eddie Wiles, and the city council. Liggett indicated those panels would be proposing and then considering a PILOT agreement. Payment In Lieu Of Tax agreements provide a property tax break to businesses in exchange for increased employment. The agreements have been defended as worthwhile. Tax revenue isn't lost; it's generated.

In June 2008, Lewisburg's Planning Commission approved site plans for what's now a 63,000-square-foot building including 3,000 square feet for office space.

"The building has to be finished out," Liggett said. "It has no floor now."