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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)
May 19, 2017 Friday
1, IndependentMail Edition
NEWS; Pg. A3
478 words
Electrolux gets generous deal for plant expansion
kirk.brown@independentmail.com; Kirk Brown

Anderson County officials previously worried that Electrolux would move its refrigerator plant to Mexico.



On Tuesday night, County Council members approved an agreement that includes a generous financial reward related to a planned expansion of the company's plant on Masters Boulevard south of Anderson.



Under the agreement, Electrolux will be eligible for a 55 percent reduction, for 15 years, in the annual fee that it pays to the county in lieu of property taxes. The reduction would then decrease to 45 percent for the following five years.

Electrolux announced plans last week for an 800,000-square-foot expansion of its plant. To qualify for the "infrastructure credit" that would cut its county fees, the company must spend between $175 million and $228 million on the project. Electrolux also must maintain a 1,200-employee workforce with an average wage of $16 per hour.

There are currently about 1,500 employees at the Electrolux plant who are making nearly 10,000 refrigerators per day, Anderson County Economic Development Director Burriss Nelson told council members.

The company paid $602,358 in fees in lieu of property taxes this year, according to Rita Davis, the county's finance manager. Nelson said the agreement that the council approved will lead to major economic benefits.

He said Electrolux is expected to pay $217,000 in first-year fees on the land where the expanded plant will be built. This undeveloped property currently only generates about $2,500 in annual property taxes, Nelson said. Over 30 years, he said, fee payments from Electrolux are projected to total $26 million.

Over the next two decades, the "community impact" of the plant expansion will add up to nearly $1.5 billion, Nelson said.

Counties throughout South Carolina routinely approve fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements so that manufacturing companies can avoid paying the state's 10.5 percent assessment on their land, which Nelson said is "the highest property tax in the planet."

The fee that Electolux will pay will be based on a 6 percent assessment and a 2010 tax rate. This fee then will be reduced through the infrastructure credit if the company meets the benchmarks in its agreement with the county.

County Councilman Ray Graham, whose district is home to the Electrolux plant, praised Nelson for working to keep the company in Anderson County.

"To me, it's just as important to maintain the companies in Anderson County as it is to bring new ones in," Graham said. "With an investment like this, I am comfortable saying that they are not leaving anytime soon."

The company's future in the county seemed less certain in the past, Councilwoman Cindy Wilson recalled Tuesday.

"A few years ago we had a hot tip that Electrolux was about to move kit, cat and caboodle to Mexico," she said. "The good news is that these jobs stay here."

Follow Kirk Brown on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM.
May 19, 2017
      
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