Anniston considering tax abatement for expanding manufacturer
by Patrick McCreless
Jan 06, 2014 | 3705 views |  0 comments | 92 92 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston could soon nix some of a local company's tax requirements to help it expand and create jobs for the area.

During its Monday work session, the Anniston City Council discussed providing a property tax abatement to Agracel Inc., an Illinois-based industrial developer. Agracel owns a McClellan facility that houses International Automotive Components, which does mold injections for automotive parts. Agracel requested the abatement for a potential 127,000-square-foot expansion to IAC, potentially creating more jobs for the area, city officials say.

The council agreed to vote on the request when it meets Monday.

Attempts to reach Agracel and IAC for this article Monday were unsuccessful.

According to Agracel's written request to the city, initial site work for the project began Jan. 1 and construction of the building should be completed in November. Agracel listed a $7.26 million appraisal of the building once completed. The requested tax abatement is for 10 years.

The request did not mention how many potential jobs the expansion might create.

Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, was at the meeting to answer the council's questions.

"They need to spend some money on the building now and have asked for the tax abatement," Hopper said.

Hopper noted that IAC had not yet officially committed to the expansion.

At Councilman Jay Jenkins' request, Hopper agreed to provide the council with estimates of how many jobs the expansion might create before the vote next week. City Manager Brian Johnson also agreed to provide the council with estimates of how much property tax the city would abate over the 10-year timeframe.

Mayor Vaughn Stewart said he and the council was excited about the potential expansion.

"This will be huge out there," Stewart said of the McClellan expansion.

Robin Scott, executive director of the McClellan Development Authority, which manages development at the former fort, said during a Monday phone interview that the MDA sold 7 acres to Agracel in late November for the expansion project.

"We will do anything we can to help a company with expansion efforts if it equates to additional jobs in the area," Scott said.

Also during the work session, the council discussed a possible ordinance to ban convenience store owners from placing coolers filled with individual beers on their sales floors. Gadsden City Council member Robert Avery was at the work session to tell the council about a similar ordinance his city approved in 2007. Proponents of such measures say the coolers allow underage drinkers to easily shoplift the beverages.

Avery said the ordinance has helped curb underage drinking in Gadsden.

"It's been a tremendous thing in our community," Avery said.

The council agreed to hold a public hearing about the proposal during its Monday meeting.

The council also discussed applying for a $200,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a city-wide assessment of brownfield properties, sites with actual or perceived hazardous substances that make them difficult to redevelop.

"I think this is important when you look down the line when the city's developing its strategic master plan," Stewart said, referring to a plan the council is working on that will guide development of Anniston in the coming years. "We need to be smart about this."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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