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This rendering shows the planned renovation of the historic John Ross Building. / Rendering contributed by Franklin Architects

The Chattanooga City Council and Hamilton County Commission will vote next week on whether to offer property tax relief to Steam Logistics, which plans to move into the historic John Ross Building downtown.

If council members on Tuesday and commissioners on Wednesday approve the measure that would give the Chattanooga-based logistics company a nine-year deal, the company would save $500,000 in property taxes during that period, said Jermaine Freeman, senior adviser to city Mayor Tim Kelly for economic opportunity.

Council chair Chip Henderson of Lookout Valley said the company would benefit the city, particularly downtown.

But it may also prompt questions from residents as to why the company would receive such tax benefits right after the city approved a budget including a $30 million increase in property tax revenue.

"What any businessman looks at is investment," Henderson said. "And that's how you have to look at the [incentive]."

(READ MORE: Chattanooga's Steam Logistics creating 400 jobs, shifting headquarters to historic John Ross Building)

If the deal goes through, the company would bring 400 jobs with an average annual pay of $56,000. In addition, it would create $11 million in investments in the community and provide more than $114 million in total economic impact, Freeman said.

County commissioners praised the plan after hearing the benefits at their Wednesday meeting.

"I think this is a marvelous project, especially the location," said Commissioner Tim Boyd, R-Chattanooga.

With the 400 new hires, the company plans to diversify its workforce to the benefit of minorities and college students looking to get into the logistics field, said Joda Thongnopnua, the city's chief policy officer.

Steam Logistics CEO Jason Provonsha on Thursday acknowledged that other companies have tried to take over the building but have failed, which is why they're seeking the incentives.

But it's different for Steam Logistics, he said, because the company needs to move now because of how quickly the company is growing. Steam has seen revenues climb by about 1,000% since 2019, he said.

"We've essentially run out of space. The entire process has been to expand our hiring needs," Provonsha said, adding that the company may end up keeping its current headquarters at 325 Market St. as well if the hiring continues at such a pace.

(READ MORE: Downtown Chattanooga's historic John Ross Building to see major makeover)

The company employs 345 people in Chattanooga, along with about 30 people in Birmingham, Alabama, and Minneapolis.

"Thank you guys for wanting to invest in Chattanooga. We're a heck of a lot better than Birmingham and Minneapolis," Commissioner Greg Martin, R-Hixson, said Wednesday.

It was first announced last month that Steam Logistics will shift its headquarters to the John Ross Building, which is expecting a makeover that will likely begin next year.

Chattanooga developer Noon Development will oversee construction. John Foy, Noon's chairman, last month said plans are to leave the structure's support columns while replacing the concrete blocks in the exterior walls with large windows.

Contact Logan Hullinger by phone at 814-319-5158 or via email at lhullinger@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.

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