Over a dozen companies in Hattiesburg will be getting tax breaks over the next decade.
City Council unanimously approved the ad valorem tax exemption for 13 of the 14 companies submitted by the Area Development Partnership Tuesday evening. Those companies include Kohler Engines, Sofidel America, Western Container and Green Bay Converting.
"It's all about creating a good, competitive environment," said Todd Jackson, Executive Vice President for Economic Development with the ADP. "Industrial property tax exemptions are one the of the biggest ways that communities around the nation differentiate themselves and provide a pro-business environment here in Hattiesburg for them."
Jackson said the companies invested $78,548,704.43 into the economy in 2016 and employ close to 3,000 people.
"These are very, very large employers that equate to a ton of payroll for the local community and then of course those employees can turn around, spend the money in our local economy and it keeps going round and round," Jackson said.
For the first time in this process, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker requested a third party to look over the data and submit an analysis to the city. A representative with Local Impact Analytics walked council members through the companies Monday evening.
"While we are great partners with the ADP, we felt it was necessary just for good data driven decision making as well as transparency for our residents to have the cost benefit analysis attached to those," Barker said.
According to the ADP, 15 companies requested exemptions and 14 were recommended to City Council to be granted. Council members tabled a decision on Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC, which employed 975 people in 2016.
Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George said council members wanted to get more information about the company before granting the exemption.
One company that received exemptions back in 2013 to come to Hattieburg was Stion. The company announced it was closing the Hattiesburg plant in October, with the official closing date on December 13, 2017. The company still owes over $2 million in monthly fee in lieu of tax payments.
"Every company is assessed property taxes, and of course they have to pay those taxes," Jackson said. "In Stion, they got behind, they have closed their door now. But they still owe the tax bill to the local community, and the local community is pursuing the tax."
The property taxes the companies do pay, which the ADP said is over $1.1M, is split between the City of Hattiesburg, Forrest County and the Hattiesburg Public School District.
Jackson said the Forrest County Board of Supervisors have already approved the exemptions for the companies.