Marysville News

Council likely to green-light tax abatement

Heritage Cooperative Inc. would invest at least $38.5 million

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Marysville City Council is on its way to approving an enterprise zone agreement between Union County, the city of Marysville and Heritage Cooperative Inc. that could bring more jobs and more money to the area.

Council approved the first reading of a resolution granting a 75 percent, 10-year tax abatement to the company at its Thursday, Feb. 27, meeting.

Malin Westfall, corporate sales manager for Heritage Cooperative, presented plans for a proposed agriculture campus and research farm. The campus would be located on 276 acres at 15090 Scottslawn Road and would include a 2.5 million bushel grain terminal, a 2 million gallon liquid fertilizer tank, a 30,000 ton dry fertilizer warehouse and a research-and-testing facility.

"This is by far one of our largest projects we've ever had in the history of Heritage," Westfall said.

The company plans to create 20 new full-time and 15 new part-time jobs with an estimated payroll of $1.125 million at the new facility, and invest at least $38.5 million in real property improvements. However, the abatement would apply only to the $20.3 million construction cost. HCI also plans to invest $5.2 million in a rail spur and additional improvements at the site.

"This project is unique in a couple of ways. One, we're actually building a loop track," Westfall said.

The loop would include more than 7,500 feet of track where trains can make an entire circuit to load or unload.

"The railroad is excited. This is only their second loop track facility in the state. It allows them to get the trains off the main line and keep traffic flowing," Westfall said.

The development falls within an enterprise zone that was created by Union County in 1990 and expanded in 2012.

The enterprise zone negotiation team includes representatives from the Union County Board of Commissioners, the city of Marysville, Marysville school district and the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.

Team member and City Councilman Henk Berbee called the deal a "win-win" for Marysville.

Councilwoman Deborah Groat asked about plans for the existing Heritage facility at 324 N. Main St. in Marysville.

"As of today, we don't have any prescribed plan to dismantle, tear down or cease operation here in the city," Westfall said.

HCI has 250 full-time and 40 part-time permanent employees working at 33 branches and four stores in 12 counties around the state. The resolution states that the enterprise zone agreement will not affect the existing jobs.

HCI is headquartered in West Mansfield.

Westfall said the HCI board has approved the project, pending permits and financing.

"This abatement package that the enterprise team brought forward is a big piece of that financing package," he said.

Construction is expected to begin April 1 and be completed by Dec. 31, 2015.

"We're truly excited about this project and able to add to Union County's No. 1 industry, which is agriculture," Westfall said.

Under the terms of the agreement, HCI agrees to give hiring preference to residents of the enterprise zone, to provide assistance in coursework to Marysville schools at least once a year and to invest at least $2,000 annually in the Union County Community Improvement Corp.

The resolution is scheduled for a second reading March 13.

The project will involve a total investment of at least $38.5 million:

* $20.3 million in facilities

* $13 million in inventory

* $3.6 million in land acquisition

* $1.5 million in machinery and equipment

* $400,000 in furniture and fixtures

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