County could abate Akzo Nobel expansion project

MORRIS – A proposed upgrade to the Akzo Nobel Chemical plant located on Tabler Road could bring as much as $138.7 million of investment to Grundy County and other taxing districts.

The company is seeking a 5-year tax abatement for its proposed plant expansion, and it received preliminary approval from the Grundy County Tax Committee during Wednesday’s meeting.

“They would like to make this plant the flagship plant and they would like to invest here to go another 30, 40 years,” tax committee chairman Chris Balkema said Wednesday.

“That’s a huge investment for this area, and I think we’re blessed,” he continued.

The committee-approved abatement will go before the full County Board next Tuesday at the September meeting.

If approved by the full board and other taxing bodies, the property tax abatement would rebate 50 percent of taxes every year for every phase of the expansion project.

The tax revenue generated from the upgrades could be anywhere from $1.8 million to $3 million, after the abatement is factored.

Existing tax revenue from the plant is about $555,000, so the expansion has the potential to more than double revenues for taxing bodies.

As proposed, the expansion and upgrade would be finished in three or four phases and take roughly three years to complete.

The plant modernization would created a limited number of new jobs but the plant’s current workforce would be retained, according to information from the Grundy Economic Development Council.

There is a strong likelihood of creating local construction jobs, as the plant expansion will require years of work.

“That would be good for our industry here, from a trades perspective,” Balkema said.

According to GEDC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Norton Ammer, the company is interested in expanding because it wants to stay competitive with other throughout the country.

Akzo’s Morris facility was originally constructed in the early 1970s, according to information from the GEDC.

“They’re really at the point where they need to reinvest,” Ammer told the committee.

The company does not anticipate an increase in sound pollution once the plant is modernized. It also pledged to manage any pollution by complying with the Environmental Protection Agency standards, as it has done in previous years.