HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council unanimously approved tax exemptions for a dozen companies at its meeting Tuesday.
"All in all these companies have invested $85 million over the last 12 months," said Todd Jackson, business development director for the Area Development Partnership. "On top of that $85 million in capital investment, they've also paid out a total payroll of $95 million. So these companies have invested $178 million in our local economy."
Jackson said the total abatement for all 12 companies- SPG Holdings, LLC, Zeon Chemicals, Mississippi Tank Company, Green Bay Converting, Inc., Wis-Pak of Hattiesburg, LLC, Western Container Corporation, C.L. Dews and Sons Foundry, York International Corp. (Johnson Controls), Mar-Jac Poultry, Sofidel America Corp., Bio Soil Enhancers and Kohler Co.- is $1.3 million.
"That represents .7 percent of the total investment these companies have made in the last 12 months, which we consider a great return on investment," he said.
Mary Dryden, Hattiesburg City Council vice president, said, "I think it's critically important, and I have to say, it's something that I have to think about every time because I look at the difference and the revenue that's coming into the city. We could use more. We have a lot to cover with our resources. The reason that the tax exemptions are approved is because those businesses have invested huge sums of money to improve their business. The have expanded it, enlarged it. In most cases, they added employees. They added to the payroll. That's good for Hattiesburg, and we need that."
Jackson said, "There's 2,844 people employed by these companies, so that over 2,800 of our local citizens that have good wages, good jobs. They're able to provide for their family because of the investment that these companies have made, and if we peel that onion back even more, because of the business friendly climate that we've established here in Hattiesburg, thanks to our great business community and our great public partners."
While the council approved exemptions for 12 companies, it actually approved 13 individual tax breaks, with Mar-Jac Poultry receiving two different exemptions.
"With the Mar-Jac exemption, they invested $915,000 just last year, so they'll apply for a traditional, 10-year property tax abatement with that investment," Jackson said. "What Mar-Jac is also pursuing is a 10-year property tax abatement in historical terms from when they purchased the facility. They purchased the facility from Marshall Durbin in 2014. Marshall Durbin has never applied for a property tax exemption, so by law, they are allowed to apply for that exemption. It's at the discretion of the local units of government, and if they choose to grant it, then they would get that exemption for assets that have been purchased over the last nine years."
Jackson said tax exemptions for manufacturing companies highlights a sector of Hattiesburg's economy that is sometimes overlooked.
"Traditionally, we think of Hattiesburg, and its three pillars of our economy- healthcare, education and military- but what a lot of people don't realize is there's actually a very booming, thriving manufacturing sector that employs up to 7 percent of our total workforce population here with some multinational corporations down to privately held, local business manufacturing," he said. "So it's a really good environment and diversifies our economy further, which will strengthen our economy for the long term."
Both Jackson and Dryden along with benefiting current companies, these kind of incentives are important for recruiting new businesses to the Hub City.
"The great thing that this allows us to do is provide historical evidence to new companies that we're trying to recruit that, hey, this community has a history of being aggressive for business and establishing a good business climate, which always help us in our business recruitment efforts," Jackson said.
Dryden said, "If people are willing to come in and transform a piece of property and put a business in it, I think we need to find a way to help make that more possible."
In the future, Dryden said she would like to see more incentives for small businesses.
"The other thing that we need are more small businesses," she said. "We need small businesses between Highway 49, including our downtown area. We've lost a lot of small businesses in that Hattiesburg. That's three of our wards. That's Wards 2 and 4 and 5. I would like to see incentives for people to create small businesses in the part of Hattiesburg that I live and work in and represent. They need the convenience of having small businesses in their neighborhoods (and) nearby."
Here's a breakdown of the 12 companies' investment in 2015 and their total abatement:
- SPG Holdings, LLC
- 2015 Investment: $6,296,190
- 2015 Employment: 148
- Total Abatement: $100,137.75
- Zeon Chemicals
- 2015 Investment: $221,996
- 2015 Employment: 46
- Total Abatement: $3,530.74
- Mississippi Tank Company
- 2015 Investment: $1,293,649.83
- 2015 Employment:192
- Total Abatement: $34,458.95
- Green Bay Converting, Inc.
- 2015 Investment:$3,551,910.29
- 2015 Employment: 128
- Total Abatement: $55,958.57
- Wis-Pak of Hattiesburg, LLC
- 2015 Investment:$1,150,274.17
- 2015 Employment:94
- Total Abatement: $18,294.54
- Western Container Corporation
- 2015 Investment: $2,326,429
- 2015 Employment: 114
- Total Abatement: $37,000.69
- C.L. Dews and Sons Foundry
- 2015 Investment: $1,472,808
- 2015 Employment: 113
- Total Abatement: $23,424.27
- York International Corp. (Johnson Controls)
- 2015 Investment: $1,858,132.54
- 2015 Employment: 199
- Total Abatement: $29,552.67
- Mar-Jac Poultry (both exemptions)
- 2015 Investment: $11,799,011
- 2015 Employment: 861
- Total Abatement: $187,657.38
- Sofidel America Corp.
- 2015 Investment: $22,181220.60
- 2015 Employment: 66
- Total Abatement:$352,781.22
- Bio Soil Enhancers
- 2015 Investment: $124,300.37
- 2015 Employment: 24
- Total Abatement: $1,976.94
- Kohler Co.
- 2015 Investment: $3,903,865
- 2015 Employment: 766
- Total Abatement: $62,089.03