“Ask and you shall receive,” the popular saying goes. Well, new and expanding businesses have asked and are receiving incentives for investing in Fort Smith.
The Fort Smith Board of Directors passed resolutions Tuesday night approving participation in the Arkansas Tax Back program for Twin Rivers Foods and Nidec Motor Corp.
Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman said companies can request sales tax refunds for capital purchases associated with current business expansion or new business construction. These purchases include building materials or equipment for operation.
“This program, as authorized by state law, is one method of incentivizing businesses to locate or remain in the state as well as the city of Fort Smith,” Dingman said.
Twin Rivers Foods is renovating a building downtown and will add 72 employees to its already 254-person workforce. The average hourly wage is $13.04.
Dingman said the company will invest roughly $1.15 million in facility and equipment upgrades.
The new location on North Second Street is a three-minute walk from Arkansas Refrigerated Services, which is the freezing service Twin Rivers uses, Mayor George McGill said.
“It will be a great partnership,” McGill said. “In addition to that, it’ll cut traffic by about 17 or 18 trucks crossing Garrison Avenue every day. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
McGill said other cities tried to attract Twin Rivers after it experienced damage from the flood this spring, but the company’s leadership opted to stay.
“The Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce introduced us to the Arkansas Tax Back program. We appreciate the (Arkansas Economic Development Commission) and the city of Fort Smith for supporting business growth through this incentive program,” said Twin Rivers Chief Operating Officer Michele Tyler. “Twin Rivers Foods has operated in Fort Smith for nearly 25 years and look forward to growing our operations there.”
McGill said he’s “pleased” the company stayed and is excited to see its growth.
Nidec Motor Corp. is renovating a building on Ellis Street for a 24-employe product design center. The initial investment is expected to be $270,400.
The company is headquartered in Japan and has a small location in Mena. Its products are in computer hard drives, electrical appliances, automobile and manufacturing equipment. Dingman said the jobs are new and will provide an average hourly wage of $35, or about $72,000 per year.
“We are thrilled to have an international company like Nidec Motor Corp. establish a presence in the Chaffee Crossing Historic District,” said Daniel Mann, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority executive director. “The high-tech jobs that will be created are exactly what we strive to place in Chaffee Crossing.”
Mann said Diades Investments converted five buildings, one of which will be Nidec’s location, in 2016 for commercial and retail use. He called the investment a “big win” for the region and thanked the state Economic Development Commission, city and Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce for their support of the project.
“I think this is good. These are good wages,” said At-large Director Neal Martin. “I enjoy that we get the opportunity to do this, so I think this is a good thing for the city and the people.”
The Board of Directors previously approved a resolution for ArcBest to participate in the program. It is renovating and upgrading its former headquarters on Old Greenwood Road, the new location is at Chaffee Crossing, for a cost of nearly $20 million.
Most of the rebates for the program come from the state level, but the city is affected.
Dingman said at the time about $398,000 would have been collected through the 2% city sales tax.
City officials believe this program, however, is worth it despite some loss of sales tax. McGill said when the ArcBest resolution was approved that these programs help to retain these companies that provide “tremendous job opportunities for our citizens.”
Source: Times Record