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Posted: September 20, 2012 9:53 p.m.

City offers industry incentive to stay

Covington council members voted unanimously to offer an existing industry a 10-year tax abatement worth $1.1 million to keep its business in the county.

The unnamed industry, which employees 900 people, wants to consolidate its operations currently located in Newton and Rockdale counties. The expansion consolidation would result in a $18 to $20 million dollars investment.

Covington Assistant Attorney Frank Turner Jr. told council at their meeting Monday night that the county has competed for the project with Rockdale County. He said Rockdale County has offered the industry a 10-year phase-in worth $4.15 million.

"Rockdale County made an extremely aggressive incentive proposal to them in my opinion," Turner said. "For a $20 million investment, a $4 million tax incentive is very aggressive," he said. "We didn't feel we could offer an incentive of that magnitude."

Turner said the industry has 150 employees at its Newton County facility and the Rockdale County facility has 750 employees at its two facilities. The average wage of each worker is about $18.46 per hour with annual sales of $1 billion.

He explained to council that he didn't anticipate any job loss with the consolidation because if the industry located to Rockdale County the employees would just have to commute. Turner said half of the employees live in Newton and Rockdale counties.

According to a project summary from the Covington-Newton County Office of Economic Development, the company is considering four sites - two in Rockdale County and two in Newton County. The sites in Newton County are 47 acres of Newton County Industrial Development Authority property that is built-to-suit and the other property is a 202,000 square foot building at Lochridge Drive that would be expanded to 400,000 square feet.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston said the Newton County Board of Commissioners would also have to agree to the tax abatement.

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