July 22, 2015

Collierville Offers Chemical Firm a Break

By Katherine Cromer
– The Commecial Appeal –

In an attempt to lure Helena Chemical to Schilling Farms, Collierville officials are willing to offer the company a million dollar tax break.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week voted 4-1 to allow the Industrial Development Board to negotiate an incentive plan with Helena Chemical.

Helena Chemical Co., currently located in Memphis’s Crescent Center on Poplar, is a leader in the agricultural products industry nationally and internationally.

Collierville’s Planning Commission approved plans this month for Helena’s four-story, 140,473-square foot building between Schilling Boulevard West and Winchester Road.

This building would be for the company’s corporate headquarters only, with no manufacturing or distribution at that site.

The tax incentives are being offered through the town’s payment in lieu of tax, or PILOT plan.

Alderman Niki Campbell voted against the PILOT offer.

The board has authorized the Industrial Development Board to offer Helena up to 10 years of an incentive plan. The plan could save the company about $63,000 a year in city taxes and about $150,000 a year in county taxes. After 10 years, Helena would be looking at more than $1 million in savings.

“I don’t have concrete proof that they will bring in $63,000 of business to the town,” said Campbell, who expressed her dismay that the town offers to help companies who can “well afford to pay it” while offering no similar breaks for smaller, local businesses.

“The incentive program is a tool which helps lure people to this community,” said Michael Robison, economic development director for the Collierville area Chamber of Commerce.

Federal Express was given a 10-year tax freeze on its $196.2 million information technology center on Bailey Station.

And since Schilling Farms is not the only place Helena Chemical is looking to build its corporate headquarters – the company is also considering a site at Forrest Hill Heights in Germantown’s annexation area – Collierville wants to put its best offer on the table.

If it chooses the Forrest Hill Heights site, Helena would receive a minimum of eight years of a PILOT program.

“Helena Chemical is the kind of thing we’d like to attract to Collierville,” Robison said.

The plot of land Helena is considereing is part of the 458-acre Schilling Farms development that originally was approved in February 1991.

Schilling Farms, in its second phase of development, contains a combination of offices, residential and medical uses, as well as the Collierville YMCA, Schilling Farms Middle School and plans for future restaurants.

The new building could cost Helena about $11 million. Helena has 246 employees and anticipates creating 73 jobs.