News Column

Plant incentive questioned: Board sends issue back to JSDC committee for further consideration

February 4, 2014

By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, N.D.

Feb. 04 -- The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board may reduce by two-thirds the incentives requested by Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant. DSA had requested about $1 million through two programs. The new jobs training programs would loan it about $320,000 , which would be repaid from North Dakota income tax withholdings from its employees. The jobs incentive program would grant the business about $600,000 from the JSDC funds based on $17,500 for each job created with a salary of more than $15 per hour. The JSDC Board passed the new jobs training program on a unanimous vote Monday. It voted to send the jobs incentive grant program portion of the application to the JSDC Executive Committee for further consideration on a 9-2 vote with Gary Riffe , JSDC chairman, and Bob Toso , board member, dissenting. The cost of the grant concerned some members. "If we're looking at spending the same thing on CHS we don't have that kind of money to support it," said Kelly Rachel , board member. The CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant is anticipated to create 150 to 200 jobs if the planned plant is built. Rachel estimated it could cost the JSDC about $3.5 million to offer the same jobs incentive grant to CHS. "It forces us to pick and choose between projects," said Ramone Gumke , Jamestown city councilman and JSDC Board member. Toso said the topic should be sent to the executive committee or a special committee to review the program although the current applications should be considered. "I agree that it's a little uncomfortable to talk about after a proposal has been presented," said Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen , who is also a member of the JSDC Board. "But it says right at the top of the memo that it has to be approved by this board and the city and county." Andersen said her concern was these jobs grants would limit the JSDC's resources and prevent it from offering incentives to other businesses that may want to locate at the Spiritwood Energy Park Association location. Connie Ova, JSDC CEO, said it was an issue of credibility if the board refuses to pass incentives it offers as part of its incentive package. "At present time it's pretty difficult for us to have credibility with these companies," she said. "If it weren't for this company ( Great River Energy , parent company of DSA) we wouldn't be worrying about housing in our community." The jobs incentive program loan now moves to the Jamestown City Council and Stutsman County Commission for review and possible passage. In other business, the JSDC board unanimously agreed to acquire 320 acres of land adjacent to the SEPA industrial park in Spiritwood Township . The land has a purchase price of $6,000 per acre for a total investment of nearly $2 million . "I think it is a tremendous opportunity for growth in this county," Ova said. The land will be offered to potential industrial companies that are looking for new locations with rail service. Plans include constructing a spur railroad line into the new property from the SEPA rail loop when it is constructed this summer. The purchase would be funded with 90 percent city sales tax funds and 10 percent Stutsman County property tax revenues. "It bothers me that we are doing at 90 percent funding from the city and all the property taxes are going outside the city," Toso said. "I don't think that is a discussion we have now but we have to have some time." The board also discussed forming a subcommittee with representatives of the South Central Dakota Regional Council to discuss SCDRC's plan to move out of the Center for Economic Development . Deb Kantrud , SCDRC director, said the organization had outgrown the space and was looking at other options. It owns 32 percent of the building and is attempting to negotiate an agreement with the JSDC and the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce to sell its portion to them. The board also approved a Flex pace interest buy down loan for Buchanan Ag. The company is expanding its fertilizer and seed operation. The Flex pace interest buy down reduces the interest of a bank loan and is repaid to the JSDC at the end of the regular loan. Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at ___ (c)2014 The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.) Visit The Jamestown Sun (Jamestown, N.D.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Jamestown Sun, The (ND)

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