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New company considers Washington County

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

Washington County has the chance to become home to a car component manufacturer at its industrial park. 

The Washington County Commission voted 13-1 to allow the county’s Industrial Development Board to negotiate and accept payments in lieu of taxes (also known as a “PILOT incentive”) from a company that is considering the purchase of a property in Washington County’s industrial park. Commissioner Robbie Tester voted in favor. Commissioner Kent Harris was absent.

At top, the former ALO facility site is under consideration for “Project Stamp.” Above, new jobs and capital investment from the company are projected for phase one. (Photos contributed)

The vice president of business development for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, Alicia Summers, told the commission during Monday night’s meeting that the unidentified company she referred to as “Project Stamp” would create 206 new manufacturing positions over two phases. 

She also said the total estimated earnings for Washington County would be about $22.8 million by year five.

But first, the company would have to choose Washington County over other sites in Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Summers said she expected to hear back from the company within 30 days give or take.

“I’m optimistic,” Summers said. “I’m feeling good about it.”

The resolution says phase one of the project includes 117 new full-time positions (with an average wage of $17 per hour) over a five-year period and capital investment of $114,986,000. Phase two includes creation of 89 new full-time positions over a five-year period and capital investment of $29,496,000.

The company considering the former ALO facility site, located at 115 Precision Blvd. in Washington County’s industrial park, started in 1977 and currently employs 17,500 people. 

The company has 26 worldwide production facilities in 10 countries and manufactures bumpers, door panels and other metal-stamped car parts. 

The Washington County property the company is considering is privately owned by a group of investors located in Chicago that has owned the property for about 10 years, Summers said.

The PILOT plan includes a tax abatement at 100 percent during the first three years for the company during phase one. Then in phase two, the plan would include a tax abatement at 100 percent for two years, then it would be scaled down in 10 percent increments in real property taxes and would remain at 100 percent in personal taxes for three years.

Accountability is also a component in the county’s tax abatement plans. 

Summers said, as part of the deal, the company is required to file a report by Jan. 31, 2022, including new jobs created and the average wage of the positions. 

The company must create 90 percent of its phase-one jobs (which is 105 jobs) by the end of 2025. If not reached, the company must pay back 50 percent of the PILOT benefit the company received. During phase two, the county will also receive the education portion of taxes from the company, which was also part of the PILOT deal the county approved with German air conditioning component company, EBM-Papst, in 2019.

Commissioner Mike Ford asked if potential employees from Washington County are considered first with potential incoming companies and if that is an aspect NETREP strives to promote.

“I am thinking of this from a taxpayer perspective,” Ford said. “When you talk to these folks, do you press on how important it is to get people from our county first for jobs if our people are available?”

Summers said local current workforce development efforts are mentioned in those talks, which often includes the five-county region when it comes to where a potential company might find people with the required qualifications.

“We don’t put a caveat that they have to hire people from Washington County,” Summers said.

Commission Chairman Greg Matherly said he felt Summers and those who had worked with industrial company clients deserved a “thank you.”

“This is the second project you’ve brought us here recently,” Matherly said. “That’s pretty impressive. Thank you very much. I know you do a whole lot of this work. I just have to thank you first. The last two projects you brought us here, we need to say, ‘Wow. Thank you.’”

The next full commission meeting will be held on Monday, May 24, at 6 p.m. in Courtroom 7 of the George P. Jaynes Justice Center, located at 108 W Jackson Blvd. in Jonesborough. 

For more meeting information, go to www.washingtoncountytn.org.