OREGON – The Ogle County Board expanded its tax abatement ordinance in hopes of securing “Project Jackpot,” an as-yet undisclosed business considering opening at the former Nippon-Sharyo locations in Rochelle.
The steel-products manufacturer, which already bought the two buildings at 1600 Ritchie Court, told officials that it would be making a capital investment of more than $130 million and adding 150 jobs that pay an average of $52,000 a year plus benefits for hourly workers.
“This is the dream project,” Rochelle Economic Director Jason Anderson said. “One hundred fifty people hired. These don’t happen every day. We need cooperation from every taxing district. A real effort to show we’ll support it.”
Lee-Ogle Enterprise Zone Administrator Andy Shaw presented the abatement changes at Tuesday’s meeting.
If all taxing bodies agree, there would be three abatement tiers.
The first, already in place, provides a 50% tax abatement on the increased value of the property for 6 years.
The second tier is not aimed at Jackpot, but other projects in the future, and consists of changing 6 years of the 50% abatement to 10 years and requiring a $50 million investment and the creation of 75 jobs, 95% of which must be maintained for the duration of abatement. If not, the abatement goes away.
Project Jackpot also requested the current 6-year abatement left on the 325,000-square-foot west building, of which 2 years are left, be extended 10 more years. The abatement on the 500,000-square-foot east building has expired, Anderson said.
“The top tier put in for Jackpot adds 10 years of 50% abatement,” Shaw said. “They need an investment of $100 million or more plus 125 new jobs and a pay rate of $50,000 or more before benefits yearly of non-managerial employees and maintain 95% employees. We want to see good-paying jobs.
“The east building won’t be abated at all. It’s a total of 12 years for the west building.”
By law, all nine taxing units in the zone must agree to the incentive changes: Lee and Ogle counties and Dixon, Ashton, Amboy, Franklin Grove, Rochelle, Oregon and Mt. Morris. The two counties and Rochelle have agreed.
Between now and mid-March, Shaw and Anderson plan to visit 32 governmental units within those nine, to plead their case.
The potential business is headquartered in Illinois and is a multibillion-dollar company with 17 domestic production facilities, its representative, Clare Walter, said at the meeting.
“We’ve worked with them for a year,” Anderson said. “There’s a number of hurdles. This is an American company seriously committed to restoring jobs back lost in recent decades. There’s a lot of other hurdles, but this is a big one. Thank you for your support.”