Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Boone seeks FedEx facility

Tax package to entice company

By Brenna R. Kelly and Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

An announcement is expected this week on where a Federal Express Ground hub with 800 new jobs will be built.

map But Boone County officials are working to ensure that their county, and not Butler County or Indianapolis, will get the hub.

One possible reason why the Northern Kentucky county might be the winner is a tax incentive plan Boone County Fiscal Court is slated to approve tonight.

A "payment in lieu of taxes" agreement, which Boone commissioners will vote on tonight, is one more incentive for the company to build the $50 million facility in Boone County, said county administrator Jim Parsons.

Under the agreement, FedEx will get a 60 percent reduction on property taxes to the county and state. The firm will pay 100 percent of taxes to the local taxing districts. The county gave similar exemptions to Citigroup and Toyota Distribution Center, Parsons said.

The FedEx hub, which would be built in the Enterprise V Industrial Park, would be a boon to Boone County, said Judge-executive Gary Moore.

The 350,000-square-foot facility would bring 800 regular jobs and up to 1,400 jobs at seasonal peaks. The facility would be on a 96-acre site on Toebben Drive near Union.

FedEx had also been considering a site along Port Union Road, straddling West Chester Township and Fairfield in Butler County, and one in Indianapolis.

"We are in the final stages of making a decision," said FedEx Ground spokesman David Westrick.

Pittsburgh-based FedEx Ground has 43,000 employees and processes 2.1 million packages a day.

In March, Boone County officials agreed to issue $65 million in industrial revenue bonds to entice FedEx to build in the county.

FedEx Ground received preliminary approval last year for $1.1 million in state tax incentives from Kentucky, officials with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development said in December.

Officials at the Ohio Department of Development would not release figures on the tax incentive package the state has offered FedEx.

Butler County leaders said Monday they would be disappointed, but not surprised, if the project goes to Northern Kentucky.

"We figured their strategy was to wave our name around to get the best deal they could in Northern Kentucky," West Chester Trustee Catherine Stoker said Monday.

Butler County Commissioner Mike Fox and Fairfield City Councilman Mark Scharringhausen lamented the likelihood of Northern Kentucky luring the hub, saying Kentucky increasingly has been attracting businesses with better tax breaks.

"It may be the wake-up call we need," Scharringhausen said. "When you can do business right across the river at significantly less dollars, it puts Hamilton, Butler and Clermont counties at a disadvantage more so than any other area in the state.

"The folks in Columbus have to work with us to find a way to level the playing field. Otherwise, we will just continue to see this happening."


E-mail bkelly@enquirer.com and jedwards@enquirer.com

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