COVINGTON — A firm figure on the total state and local incentives package offered to Baxter International to locate in Stanton Springs is hard to come by, given the variables at play, but the amount could top $200 million.
The initial incentives estimate from the state of Georgia was released as $78 million, but that estimate does not include incentives that are offered for all companies that locate in the state and meet eligibility requirements said Alison Tyrer, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
All told, incentives from the state could be as high as $126 million, while local incentives could be more than $100 million.
On the local level, a 15-year real and personal property tax abatement program could amount to a $94 million savings. The deal includes a five-year abatement and a 10-year phase-in of taxes. At the end of the abatement period, the property will be taxed at its market value and the four counties will begin receiving tax revenues once the 10-year phase-in begins. The counties will divide revenue based on their share of ownership in Stanton Springs, according to Alan Verner, chairman of the Joint Development Authority. Newton and Walton counties each have a 37.5 percent share, with Morgan County holding 15 percent ownership and Jasper 10 percent.
In addition, $7.9 million is offered for construction of a wastewater pre-treatment facility that will be constructed on site. The funding will be provided through a combination of loans and grants, according to information provided by Verner.
The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority has committed to provide the needed supply of 1 million gallons of water per day to Baxter, and will contract with the city of Covington to provide sewer service. A sewer line is located within the park but will need to connect with a new line to run to the City of Covington Water Reclamation Facility, according to Verner.
Electricity already exists along Stanton Springs Parkway provided by Walton EMC, but additional power needs will be put out to bid by the company and they will choose the provider, Verner said. There are no gas lines in the park; a similar bid process will take place for that service.
All local plan review fees, permits and inspection fees and impact fees will be waived, totaling about $650,000, and water and sewer connection fees totaling about $613,000, will also be waived.
In addition, the director of planning and development in Walton County will oversee the design and construction process for expedited permit processing; the JDA could issue industrial development revenue bonds with low interest financing to the company; use of a temporary office space would be provided during construction; and Stanton Springs Parkway or another street of the company’s choice could be renamed.
On the state level, incentives could range between $80 million and $126 million. State incentives include:
• A project development grant of $13.75 million, with $2 million for construction of the wastewater pretreatment facility and $11.75 million for site acquisition, purchasing of manufacturing and training equipment, parking lots, exterior lots, exterior lighting, fencing, interior roads, landscaping, and other site development costs, according to documentation supplied by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Those funds would be distributed to the Joint Development Authority for reimbursement to Baxter for costs.
• A quality jobs tax credit for creation of new jobs at a higher than average wage for this area is estimated at $28,104,000, and a jobs tax credit at $4.7 million.
• Sales tax exemptions could vary heavily, with the exemption for sales and use tax on machinery and equipment ranging anywhere from $27.2 million to $60.5 million. An additional sales and use tax on energy carries an estimated value of more than $1.3 million and an exemption on construction materials is estimated at $2.5 million.
• The state is investing $14 million in a training facility to be located on site and $150,000 for a recruitment site that will be in place for two months. Georgia Work Ready will provide a value of nearly $1.5 million in services, including assistance with training and education costs.
A state coordinator will be assigned to assist Baxter in implementing the terms and conditions of the agreement at no cost to the company for two years.
The numbers could change as more details about the project emerge and are subject to numerous variables, Tyrer said.
“We feel that the incentives available to Baxter are very appropriate in light of the higher-than average pay anticipated for this community; the potential for the company to create more than 1,500 jobs in Georgia; and the milestone it represents for the state to grow the bioscience industry in Georgia through its workforce capabilities and the cluster effect we believe Baxter’s location will create,” she said.
Baxter will employ 1,500 and has already begun posting job announcements for engineering, manufacturing, quality assurance and project management positions. Those interested can visit www.careers.baxter.com. Local officials have estimated the average salary paid by the company to be about $60,000.
Asked how the incentive package compares to others, Tyrer responded that the Georgia Department of Economic Development seldom keeps information regarding past incentive packages on hand.