meat plant property

Old farm-related structures sit on a property near Columbia that could soon be home to a large meat plant employing hundreds of people.

Columbia is on the short list of locations for Swift Prepared Foods, which is seeking a location for a $200 million Italian meats processing plant to open in 2022.

Columbia is one of three locations the company is considering, said Bernie Andrews, executive vice president of Regional Economic Development Inc., by phone on Wednesday.

Company officials on Tuesday made their pitch to the Chapter 100 Review Panel over Zoom. It includes members of each taxing entity involved.

The company has made an application for the issuance of Chapter 100 Revenue Bonds. Related to that, it is seeking 75% property tax forgiveness for 10 years.

The 251 full-time jobs would have an average annual wage of $52,693. The plant's annual payroll would be $13.23 million. A long list of employee benefits was displayed.

The average hourly wage would be $22.50, with production and packaging jobs starting at $16 an hour.

A 275,000-square-foot plant costing $150 million would be scheduled to open in 2022, followed a few years later by an additional 50,000-square-foot building costing $35 million.

The location being considered is 80 acres along Paris Road, next to Schneider Electric and 3M and near Kraft Heinz, Aurora Organic Dairy and Quaker.

The plant would produce dry, cured meats including salami, pepperoni, prosciutto and pancetta, said Matt LaFollette, Swift special projects director.

"We plan to be the most state-of-the-art facility in the country and the world," said Swift President Tom Lopez.

There would be little odor, and any odor produced would be a pleasant one, officials said.

The company has three plants in Iowa and one each in Indiana, Vermont and Mississippi.

A ready-to-eat bacon plant is scheduled to open this year in Moberly. That $70 million investment is expected to have 200-plus workers.

In Moberly, the company is building a solar pavilion, an amphitheater and a children's splash pad in a city park, Lopez said.

"We're really investing in our communities in order to really grow out business," he said.

The industrial property Swift is considering now produces annual property tax revenue of $1,400.

With 75% property tax forgiveness for 10 years, the project would produce property tax revenue of $3.7 million over the period. That breaks down to $3.2 million for the Columbia school district; $213,747 for the city; $160,600 for Daniel Boone Regional Library; Boone County, $62,895; Boone County Family Resources; $59,534; Common Road District, $26,218; and the state, $15,686.

The boards of those taxing agencies will all meet in the next week to consider the proposal. The Boone County Commission gives final approval.

If this becomes the company's location, when the construction is complete, the title for real and personal property will be transferred to Boone County, with the county submitting bills to the company for payment in lieu of taxes equal to 25% of the property value, Andrews said Wednesday.

If the company locates here, an agreement will be developed that sets employment thresholds and requires an annual report from the company. There would be clawback provisions in the agreement for failure to meet requirements, and the county wouldn't be responsible for the buildings should the company leave.

Mayor Brian Treece said he doesn't consider these proposals deals, but partnerships.

"I want to thank you for taking this next step with us," Treece told the officials. "I also realize you have choices in your decision-making."

Past Chapter 100 projects have included ABC Laboratories, Kraft Heinz Co., Dana Light Axle Products, AOD-MO Holdings, and American Outdoor Brands. A project for Northwest Medical Isotopes was withdrawn after approval.

COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE

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