EDA proposes aggressive property tax relief for Pride Pak

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Pride Pak Canada Ltd. is eyeing the 180,000-square-foot former BernzOmatic site for a vegetable processing, packaging and distribution facility.

MEDINA – In an effort to sway a Canadian company to move into Medina, the Orleans Economic Development Agency is proposing deep discounts in the property taxes over 20 years at the former BernzOmatic property.

Pride Pak Canada Ltd. in Ontario, Canada, proposes to establish a new vegetable processing, packaging and distribution facility in a 180,000-square-foot facility at 1 BernzOmatic Drive.

The company wants to expand its operations and better serve a large northeastern US grocery chain, Orleans EDA officials said.

Medina is competing with other sites in Western New York and Pennsylvania to attract the company. In addition to discounted local property taxes, the EDA is working to secure state incentives and reduced electricity costs for the company.

“It’s still not a given,” said Jim Whipple, Orleans EDA chief executive officer. “We have to show that Orleans County is ready for them.”

Generally, the EDA and local governments approve 10-year tax-savings deals for companies where they pay a sliding scale of the tax burden, adding 10 percent increments over 10 years.

Pride Pak would get a 20-year deal and see the increments rise 5 percent annually.

The tax savings would help offset the costs needed to renovate and retrofit the manufacturing space into food grade specifications and other company needs, EDA officials said.

Pride Pak is looking to invest $10 million into the site, by acquiring the building and installing new machinery and equipment. The EDA is proposing the company be spared from paying sales tax on up to $4 million worth of equipment and materials.

Pride Pak expects to create up to 80 new permanent full-time positions by the end of year one. By year five, the company could have up to 200 workers at its U.S. site, according to the EDA.

The site was vacated last year by Worthington Cylinders, which shut down its Medina operation, laying off about 150 workers. It consolidated the Medina work with a site in Wisconsin.

The complex is currently assessed for $2.4 million. The EDA plan would have the company pay a fraction of the taxes on a reduced assessment, starting at 0 percent of a $1.2 million assessment in year 1.

The payment in lieu of taxes plan raises the assessment by 3 percent each following year until it’s at $2,104,207 in year 20.

During a public hearing on the PILOT on Tuesday, no one from the local taxing entities – Village of Medina, Town of Ridgeway, Medina Central School or Orleans County – spoke against the plan.

Whipple said Pride Pak would have a big benefit to the area. The company would buy produce from local farmers and would also be a big water and sewer users, which would help the Village of Medina. The company would also employ about 200 people at full build-out, which would strengthen the local economy.

The EDA board of directors is expected to approve the PILOT plan during its meeting at 8 a.m. on Friday.

Paul Hendel, the EDA board chairman, attended the public hearing on Tuesday. He praised Whipple and Gabrielle Barone, the EDA vice president of business development, for putting together the incentive packages to keep Orleans County in the running for the project.

“They’ve put in tons of energy with all of the phone calls and site visits,” Hendel said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that people don’t see just to get to this point.”