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Grundy in talks with two companies to build within the county

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 11:04 p.m. CST

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MORRIS – Grundy County is in negotiations with two companies regarding proposed projects to build new facilities within the county.

Missy Durkin from the Grundy Economic Development Council (GEDC) updated the Grundy County Tax Committee on Wednesday about negotiations involving Costco and an anonymous company known as Project Blackstone.

“One of the sites has been eliminated so it’s down to us and one other site,” Durkin said of Project Blackstone. “They wanted me to emphasize that the reception at the local and state level has exceeded their expectations so we may be good contenders for that project.”

Blackstone is a company that wished to remain anonymous to the county at this stage in the negotiations and will not be revealed unless they decide to move forward with the project, said Nancy Norton-Ammer of the Grundy Economic Development Council in a phone call before Wednesday’s meeting.

Durkin said Blackstone must now consider other factors that are out of the county’s control so the negotiations are on hold until further notice.

The county also is competing for an agreement with Costco to build a new facility in Grundy County.

“If they should go forward with the project, they would be building a whole new facility,”Ammer said. “They are proposing an entirely different facility, not just logistics.”

Ammer said negotiations with Costco began about three months ago. The company is considering Grundy and another site in Michigan for the proposed project.

Durkin discussed offering tax abatements to entice the businesses during Wednesday’s tax committee meeting.

Grundy County offers a three-year, prenegotiated tax abatement program for qualifying companies. The abatement is offered to companies starting a new project or expanding their existing business. Eligible companies can receive an abatement on their property taxes of up to 75 percent their first year, 50 percent their second year and 25 percent their third year.

“That percentage could vary based on their level of investment, the number of jobs they create, the wages that they pay – all of those things go into scoring their application,” Ammer said.

To qualify for an abatement, the company must submit an application and meet a long list of criteria. Requirements for the tax abatement program include hiring at least 50 percent of workers from the taxing district and having a development worth at least $500,000.

Applications also are evaluated based on job creation, wage rates, real estate taxes generated and more.

“We put the abatement policy in place almost 20 years,” Ammer said. “What we try to do is have some uniform standards and thresholds for the companies to meet to qualify for an abatement.”

Costco qualified for a three-year abatement when they built their warehouse in Morris in the early 2000s, but never took advantage of the offer said tax committee member John Almer.

“This abatement would be for their new facility only since the other offer has expired,” Almer said.

Ammer said one of the two companies is already in the application process for the abatement, but did not specify which one.

“It is not certain whether we will extend the abatements,” Ammer said. “We hope that we will, but we don’t know.”

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