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DCA clears second hurdle for industrial-site development

By Tim Ruzek

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Two down and one to go.

The Development Corp. of Austin received approval Monday night for a five-year tax abatement from the Austin City Council.

Council members voted 6-1 to approve the request for the DCA, a private nonprofit that plans to build the first building in the city’s vacant Austin Business Park in northwest Austin. At-large council member Pete Christopherson voted against it.

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The council then unanimously voted to remove the DCA’s land in the industrial park from a tax-increment-financing district. DCA, which seeks to spur economic development in Austin and Mower County, has a tentative agreement with Smyth Cos. to lease the building to relocate one of its two operations in Austin.

A week ago, the Mower County Board voted unanimously to approve a five-year tax abatement for the project.

The Austin Public Schools superintendent and board chairperson both have indicated support for the request, said George Brophy, president and chief executive officer of the DCA. The school board expects to discuss the request next week, he said.

If approved, the school district’s portion would be about $5,000 a year while the city’s part of the abatement will equal roughly $8,000 a year, city administrator Jim Hurm said. Mower County’s abatement will be nearly $10,000 annually.

With abatements from all three entities, the DCA overall would save an estimated $115,000 in property taxes during the five years, with savings passed onto Smyth.

With the DCA building, Smyth is proposing to retain its current 12-person staff and add three or more full-time positions that will pay more than $12 an hour with benefits. Smyth also intends to add eight or more part-time jobs with pay at $8 to $12 per hour.

Work is expected to start this fall on the DCA building and be completed by June 1, officials have said.

Leaders have said the industrial park needs an attractive facility to attract other companies to develop adjacent parcels owned by Austin’s Port Authority.

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Smyth also is planning to double the size of its other Austin operation in the city’s northeast industrial park, producing more jobs at both facilities. Port Authority is considering a $2.1 million project to buy and expand the other Smyth facility, which is owned by a private firm.

Request: A five-year property tax abatement to help Development Corp. of Austin prepare the first industrial site in Austin Business Park.

Plans: DCA plans to build a 30,800-square-foot, expandable building on a 4 1/2 -acre site, with hopes of transforming the industrial park from bare land and infrastructure to a site supporting its first business.

The tenant: Smyth Cos. is prepared to place one of two Austin operations in the DCA building. It’s also planning to double the size of its other Austin operation, creating jobs at both facilities.

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