Reprinted with permission from the Pike County Press-Dispatch, August 23, 2019

By Andy Heuring

Pike County Commissioners voted to re-quest $857,000 to build a water line to a $20 million development project that will create 22 new jobs and be the first project to locate on the Southwest Indiana Megasite in Pike County. Their action was taken in Monday morning’s meeting.

The $857,000 would come from the County Economic Development Income Tax.

“Twenty million isn’t bad for the first project,” said John Mandabach, of Bowman Family Holdings.

The agri-business project, named River Birch Farms Genetic Multiplication Facilities, is expected to hire 22 people with an average wage of $15 an hour. It will have $7.6 million in building and land improvements and more than $7.4 million in equipment, breeding stock and fixtures, according to a handout on the project given to county commissioners.

Paul Wheatley, president of The Wheatley Group, a consultant to the Pike County Economic Development Corporation, went through a list of benefits to the county the project would generate. “Hopefully this is the first in a series of projects,” said Wheatley, emphasizing it will help offset some of the hits Pike County has taken from IPL’s recently announced reduced assessed valuation.

Some of the numbers it will generate include construction costs of $6.4 million for a genetic multiplication facility comprised of four buildings on about a 20-acre site. Its construction is expected to create 40 direct jobs and six indirect jobs, including $3.4 million in new payroll added, which will generate more than $25,000 in one-time local income tax payments during the construction period.

It will also generate almost $30,000 in annual property taxes for Pike County once it is assessed. Direct operating impact from the project is listed as $5.75 million in new abatable equipment and $1.6 million investment in breeding stock. Other impacts include $374,289 in 10 years of TIF and $2.1 million in TIF over 25 years. Its payroll of $686,000 will generate $46,332 in local income tax over 10 years and $124,000 over 25 years.

“It is also extending infrastructure into the megasite, as well, which is important. Other projects can piggyback off the water line extension,” said Wheatley.

Mandabach said their goal is to have this up and running before the end of the year. “Twenty million isn’t too bad for the first project. This is the first of several projects we have in the works. We hope to continue the momentum. There are other proj-ects we are working on. They are just in different stages of development,” said Mandabach.

He added, “Rather than waiting for them to drop into our laps, we are actively going out and working to attract appropriate businesses. Agribusiness is one that is key to this area,” said Mandabach.

Wheatley told the commissioners the group would also be requesting a property tax abatement on the project. He said it would be a standard 10-year step down on real property and five-year step down on personal property.

“County isn’t giving up any existing taxes, just new investments,” said Wheatley. On real property, it will start with paying no property taxes the first year, then 10 percent the second year and each year after, it will increase by 10 percent. Personal property will increase by 20 percent each year over five years.

Petersburg Mayor R.C. Klipsch said Petersburg is in the process of building a new water treatment plant. “We have the oldest plant in the state.” He said the revenue generated by the increased water sales to this project would help keep Petersburg’s rates low.