(Photo | Cascade Business News)
Jefferson County is kick-starting an initiative to attract more business to the area with the incentive of grant funds toward construction of industrial warehouse space for potential larger tenants.
At a recent meeting, Jefferson County Board of Commissioners finalized a program that offers up to $143,000 for qualified parties who step up to build such structures within its jurisdiction’s boundaries.
The grant would offer up to $125,000 toward a building of 60,000 square feet, with a minimum size to meet eligibility criteria of 20,000 square feet. In addition, the grant recipient could apply for up to $18,000 in “rent gap” funding to cover costs if the building stays vacant after completion.
The grant is designed to have a high degree of flexibility and does not require property to be identified at the time of the application, but scoring for the grant incentivizes applicants that have property or leased property at the time of the November 4, 2019 submission deadline.
The grant concept was initially discussed in May this year following a report from the area’s Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) program coordinator Janet Brown indicating that several companies were looking for information in relation to communities similar to Jefferson County, but were seeking “ready-to-rent” warehouse space of between 10,000 and 80,000 square feet.
“Unfortunately, we just don’t have any inventory that fits that criteria,” said County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink. “These companies do not want to wait 12-24 months for permitting and construction, they want to be able to move right in.”
Commissioner Mae Huston added, “Many of the economic development tools to attract business to Jefferson County are geared to businesses that can be patient through a building project and have sufficient capital for a large project.
“It appears from the data that perhaps incentivizing a warehouse to be built might fulfil a need and be attractive to business ventures that want to move at a more rapid pace.”
Having an occupant ready is not a part of the grant requirement. Commissioner Wayne Fording said, “The successful applicant has several timelines they need to meet, and they will not receive any grant funding until the project is complete.
“The program’s goal is to get someone to add inventory; we believe occupancy will follow quickly. However, the timeline does allow sufficient time for someone who does want to take advantage of this grant and the other tax abatement programs offered by the Enterprise Zone designation.”
The funds being used for the incentive are proceeds from a 1980’s Oregon Community Development Grant that Jefferson County used to establish a business economic development loan program. The County originally received $400,000 and the program has a current value of more than $800,000.
The City of Madras has also reduced Systems Development Charges (SDC’s) or impact fees for companies that utilize the Enterprise Zone at the Madras Airport-Industrial Park as another incentive to stimulate business activity.
Information regarding land leasing in that area is available by contacting Madras City Administrator Gus Burril at 541-475-2344; firstname.lastname@example.org or City Public Works Director Jeff Hurd at 541-475-2344; email@example.com.
Brown added, “All of this stemmed from discussions with the city and county the last several years regarding leads I receive that I’m not able to submit a proposal for because we do not have any turnkey buildings available in our industrial zones. I also heard from a few businesses that SDC’s were somewhat high at times.
“While every city in Central Oregon hears this, Madras chose to do something about it by reducing SDC’s based on number of new employees up to 25 percent. With the county now joining the effort, we have multiple incentives for a developer to build in Jefferson County.
She continued, “The city SDC scale is straightforward based on new employment and the parameters of the county grant are very flexible — we are ready for business in Jefferson County!”