By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
Tipton — Although officials with Dupont Pioneer haven’t finalized the location of a new product line, Tipton County officials sweetened the incentives for the expansion to take place in Tipton.
The Tipton County Council Tuesday voted to approve a 10-year real and personal property tax abatement for Pioneer.
Jeff Sheridan, executive director of the Tipton County Economic Development Organization, asked the council to support the tax abatement, adding the company has not made a decision on the location of the expansion.
The Tipton County Review Committee voted unanimously to approve the tax abatement request.
Jesse Busse with Pioneer said Thursday the approval of the tax abatement makes it likely Tipton will be selected as the site for the planned expansion. She said an announcement could be made in March.
In passing the tax abatement, the council designated the entire 116-acre Pioneer site on the west side of Tipton as an Economic Revitalization Area. Not included in the area is the location of the Tipton County Foundation.
The 10-year tax abatement would be phased in starting at 100 percent the first year and decreasing by 10 percent each year for a decade.
At the preliminary hearing in January, Steve Bonine of Pioneer said the seed grown in Indiana is shipped out of state for processing.
He said the company is looking at a $13.8 million investment and the creation of 20 jobs over the next four years.
Pioneer currently employs 259 people in Tipton County.
Bonine said Pioneer is considering another location for the expansion.
Tipton plant manager Chad Hodgens said the local facility doesn’t have the technology or space needed to process the seed.
The new process would blend two types of hybrid seeds into one product that is in demand by consumers.
“We’re at the crossroads on a decision as to whether the expansion should be done in Tipton or at another location,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the cost will be in construction of a new building and new equipment.”
Hodgens said if Tipton is successful in being selected as the site for the new process, the work could be completed by the fall of this year. He said the estimate is that five jobs will be created in 2013, six in 2014, five in 2015 and four in 2016.
Pioneer last boosted its operations in Tipton County in 2007 with a $1.3 million, 10,000-square-foot expansion of its seed quality facility. The last expansion prior to that was in 1988.
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