Jasper supports tax breaks for factory

Jasper supports tax breaks for factory

August 20th, 2012 by Ryan Lewis in Local Regional News

Billy Simpson, the mayor of Jasper, Tennessee

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

JASPER, Tenn. - A proposed major expansion at Tennessee Galvanizing Inc. has city administrators supporting tax breaks for the company.

The company recently hosted a meeting about the planned expansion with officials from the state, Marion County and Jasper.

At the meeting, Jasper Mayor Billy Simpson said Tennessee Galvanizing requested a five- or 10-year tax abatement to help offset some costs of construction.

The tax abatement would apply only to new construction, not existing structures, officials said.

Jasper Attorney Mark Raines said the city is "tied" to the county's decision because it probably wouldn't be worth the effort if only Jasper provided the tax relief to the company.

Last week, the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to "follow suit" with whatever the Marion County Commission decides.

"We have a long-established business that's come in and asked for some assistance from the city, and basically, anything this board does would be a good-faith effort to show that we appreciate this company, we appreciate them bringing jobs and we appreciate them keeping those jobs in our community," Raines said.

The expansion includes a new $775,000 centrifuge plant and approximately $1.25 million in new equipment, officials said.

"There's nobody else in the United States doing this work," Simpson said. "They've got orders backed up, and they're turning people away. They said they didn't want to borrow any money [from the county] whatsoever for the expansion."

"[Tennessee Galvanizing] basically said, 'We'd love to have some help from [the city and the county], but regardless of whether or not you do, we're going to do this no matter what,'" Raines said. "A lot of this will depend on what the county decides to do. You have a business that's been around here for a long time, and they are self-funding this expansion. That's important."

Recently, Birmingham, Ala., offered to construct the needed building at no cost if Tennessee Galvanizing would relocate there, officials said.

Raines said the benefit of keeping the company in Jasper is huge compared with the "minimal" sum the city and county would be giving up.

Tennessee Galvanizing plans to add 35 employees during the expansion and up to 65 over time, officials said.

"They're choosing to stay here with us," Raines said. "If you look at the numbers, [the abatement] is pretty negligible when you're going to hire up to 65 employees."

Simpson said once the expansion is "up and going" Tennessee Galvanizing expects to be "doing a minimum of $20 million per year in gross sales."

"That's a big operation," he said.

The Marion County Commission is expected to discuss the issue at its next meeting on Aug. 27 at 6 p.m. CDT.