A Chicagoland-area business will soon be able to relocate to North Judson following action last night by the Starke County Council. They unanimously agreed to a seven-year, $360,000 tax abatement on equipment and an additional 10-year, $665,000 phase in of taxes on real estate improvements for Outstanding Tradeshow Exhibit Services. OTES President Nan Wellman plans to purchase and renovate the Thermo Products building on State Road 10 just west of North Judson.
As a result, Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver says Thermo Products will continue its operations in North Judson as a result. The company was considering a move to a new lab in North Carolina, but now plans to sign a three-year lease in North Judson, according to Weaver.
Kemin Industries rents the back half of the building. They process a specialized variety of mint that’s grown locally and plan to expand their operations to include rosemary that’s grown in Texas.
Weaver says the term “tax abatement” is somewhat misleading.
“I prefer calling it tax phase in, because the taxes that now exist will remain,” he told the council. “Those taxes that go to the schools, the county, to the township and everybody else will stay right there. What we’re talking about is the new investment for improvements to the real estate, and the new equipment. That will be phased in over a period of time that you select. So nothing is really stopped.”
Weaver adds granting tax abatements like the one for OTES does not take away money from existing county expenses like the Starke County Jail.
“You’re only going to get X number of dollars here for property taxes, regardless of what you do. What you are doing though is by bringing in new companies, you’re adding to the tax base. How does that help you? Because of the ceilings, the tax caps. The only way to fight the tax cap is to increase the assessed value, and how do we increase the assessed value, by increasing the valuation of our properties, just like they’re going to be doing here.”
Weaver says the addition of more jobs will also mean more income tax collections for the county.