By JOY BROWN and LOU WILIN
McLane Co., which will open a grocery distribution center on Findlay’s north end in 2016, eventually employing 425, will benefit from two large tax breaks, state and city officials announced Tuesday.
The business won a $3.6 million job creation tax credit from the state.
McLane also will be eligible to receive millions in property tax breaks from Findlay’s Community Reinvestment Area.
The company has pledged to provide $500,000 of the property tax savings for necessary infrastructure improvements on the site it will build on, and $100,000 more to enhance workforce development programs at Millstream Career Center.
“Not only do we get a great company, but we get a wonderful, fantastic investment,” Mayor Lydia Mihalik told Findlay City Council on Tuesday night. “This is all really good stuff.”
Depending on the company’s total investment after construction concludes, Mihalik said the company could be eligible to receive between $2 million and $3 million worth of Community Reinvestment Area tax breaks from the city.
Tom Anderson, McLane’s tax manager, promised in a letter to the city to make the company’s $600,000 contribution up front, around groundbreaking time.
McLane, a grocery supplier for convenience stores, mass merchants, drugstores and chain restaurants, will pay an average wage of $57,000 per year plus benefits. It plans to build a $38 million, 337,831-square-foot distribution center south of Hancock County 212 and across from Lowe’s Distribution Center.
A 1,400- to 1,500-foot street, enabling access to the distribution center from Hancock County 212, will be built. Plans are for the street to be funded by the state and the company, said Tim Mayle, assistant economic development director for the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance.
The street will be directly across from the driveway to Lowe’s Distribution Center, where a traffic signal now is located.
Regional officials, from township trustees and the Hancock County commissioners to economic development representatives, quietly but vigorously courted McLane.
At the urging of the company, the city moved to speed up the annexation of 276 acres where McLane will build, a move that Mayor Mihalik described as unprecedented.
The annexation legislation was unanimously approved by City Council on Tuesday night.
Law Director Don Rasmussen, when questioned by Auditor Jim Staschiak at a previous council meeting about the annexation fast-tracking, said it was legal.
The annexation request was simply referred to as the Ranzau/Jaqua property when council gave the first two readings to the annexation legislation at previous council meetings. Officials kept quiet about McLane and its connection to the land until council members approved the annexation Tuesday.
Not everyone is happy about the arrival of the distribution center. Prior to council’s vote Tuesday, a couple living on property that will be surrounded by the annexed parcel said they expect their property value to plummet.
“The people doing the selling will make millions while others will pay hell for the time it will take to sell anything,” said Glen Franks of 6094 Hancock County 18. “When you’ve got homes completely nested in an industrial park, who would want to buy them?”
The Franks’ argument didn’t sway city officials, who applauded when told of the property tax savings that McLane said it will invest in the city.
“This is not your father’s distribution center,” Tony Iriti, the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance’s economic development director, said earlier Tuesday.
It will be highly automated, with engineers and other technical workers operating $80 million worth of machinery and equipment, he said.
Construction likely will start this summer, McLane officials said.
“We’re thrilled that Findlay, Ohio, will be home to our 22nd grocery distribution center within our nationwide network,” said Mike Youngblood, president of McLane Grocery. “The values and work ethic of the community fit perfectly with McLane. The invaluable assistance of state and local officials was one of the primary reasons in selecting Ohio as our new home. Their focus on promoting a business-friendly environment was a critical part of our selection process.”
The distribution center will serve grocery stores in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It is expected to open in March 2016 and ramp up to 425 employees within two to three years.
To keep its state tax credit, McLane must keep operating in Findlay for at least 11 years. The company will claim the 60 percent, eight-year tax credit on income tax.
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