The local economy received a potential boost last week when Crossett City Council approved a letter signaling its willingness to discuss economic development incentives with a company planning to locate in the area.
Crossett Economic Development Executive Director Mike Smith presented the letter, which was addressed to a company looking to locate a biofuel production in the area, to the council.
“The letter basically says you’re willing to sit down with them to negotiate a pilot agreement that will allow them to be issued Act 9 bonds,” Smith said.
The agreement would involve tax breaks, Smith said, and Crossett is going to have to be competitive with what they offer. Act 9 bonds, or Initial Revenue Bonds, provide financing options for companies.
Smith told the council that the City of Crossett is competing with other cities —and states — when asking companies to locate in the area. However, the letter presented to them Monday, Oct. 21 was just a preliminary procedure of the process.
“Basically, all this letter does is become a part of the records and give their financing people something to look at as they put a financing package together,” Smith said.
Councilman Cary Carter questioned how much and how long the potential tax breaks could be in place. Smith said it could be a break of approximately 65 percent but only for the time the bond issue is in place. Once the bond issue is paid off, the taxes would revert to the regular taxing schedule.
“I always look at it like this, 35 percent of $900 million is better than a 100 percent of zero,” Smith said.
Councilwoman Crystal Marshal said that if the city is going to be serious about recruiting industry, they would need to start by approving the letter.
“I think if we want to be competitive and we want to recruit industry, this is pretty much industry standard and we’ve got to commit to this,” Marshall said. Councilman Dale Martinie seconded Marshall’s motion to approve the letter and said he thought the city needed to put its best foot forward and be open to conversation to get things rolling.
The council approved the motion unanimously.
Smith also told council members he needed them to approve a resolution so that he could apply for grant funds for the new community center. Smith said the center has stayed booked just about every weekend and he wanted to add some things to the inside such as an ice machine and refrigerators, though the main goal is to remodel the exterior of then building.
Smith also asked council to have representatives from a solar farm added to the next working session agenda. There is a company that has been interested in installing a solar farm in the area and Smith said they are now ready to move forward.
Also on council’s agenda was the adopted an ordinance that they voted on last month allowing the sale of craft and handmade items in addition to produce at the city farmer’s market. This allows the market to host a craft fair the last Saturday of each month and boost the economic position of several local crafters. The council voted on the change last month, but had to approve the drafted document as a formality this month.