Hamilton County Commission OKs tax agreement with automotive supplier

Hamilton County Commission OKs tax agreement with automotive supplier

November 7th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Business Around the Region

Hamilton County Commissioners conduct business during a commission meeting in this file photo.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

In other business, commissioners:

• Approved the $1.2 million purchase of an optical voting system for the Hamilton County Election Commission. The system was grant funded with no county match required.

• Accepted a $67,800 bid from Chase Plumbing and Mechanical to install three culverts at Flagstone Drive.

• Voted to accept proposals from Assurant Employee Benefits and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to provide voluntary dental insurance to county employees.

• Approved a proposal from The Hartford for increased life insurance for county employees.

An $8.5 million tax agreement for a Canadian automotive supplier has cleared the Hamilton County Commission and next moves to the Chattanooga City Council next week.

Hamilton County Commissioners approved a tax in lieu of payment proposal for Woodbridge Chattanooga Formed Plastics, which produces plastics and foam used in car building.

The company plans to spend $8.5 million expanding two plants it operates in Hamilton County, a move that is touted to create 70 permanent jobs.

In return, it would only pay education taxes on the expansion for the next three years, freeing it from about 73 percent of property taxes.

Charles Wood, vice president of economic development at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday the supplier is one of several that have been attracted to the Scenic City over the past few years. In fact, Canadians have been eyeing Chattanooga for some time.

Chattanooga is at the corner of the "German Triangle" Wood said, saying that the Volkswagen Assembly Plant formed a triangle with the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and the BMW plant in Spartanburg, S.C.

"We've had a lot of interest out of Canada. We hosted about a dozen or up to 15 Canadian automotive suppliers," Wood said. "For a lot of those companies, they tend to be serving the [carmakers] that have grown in the South."

The County Commission has approved the tax agreement, and Wood said the Chamber would present it to the Chattanooga officials next week.

If passed there, the Industrial Development Board will manage the agreement.

If this expansion plays out, the company, which operates in nearly 20 countries, has the option to take on a second phase, which would cost another $8 million and create another 130 jobs.

Mayor Jim Coppinger said the agreement is a win for the county.

"We were in competition, obviously. They are a global company -- they are in something like 17 countries -- for us to be able to land their expansion here it's extremely good for us," Coppinger said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.