Franklin Council approves 10-acre Pretlow sale

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Franklin City Council approved a historic sale on Monday night, selling 10 acres to agriculture manufacturer Providence for $25,000. It’s the first private investment in the Pretlow Industrial Park since the 1980s, when the site was purchased by the city for purposes of economic development.

Providence, a brand of Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings LLC, will invest $1.5 million in the property in developing a new facility for blending fertilizer, as well as storing and distributing of fertilizer. The $25,000 price is an economic incentive deal provided to Pinnacle under the company’s commitment to invest in the property and bring a minimum of 9 jobs to the area at an average annual income of $37,000, exclusive of other employment benefits, for a minimum of 5 years.

Mark Montgomery, East Coast manager for Pinnacle, said they have a 36-month period to get this project completed, but they aim to get it in faster.

“Our worst-case scenario is to have it done in 24 months,” he said. “Once the contract is executed, we will do our due diligence.”

Due diligence includes a phase 1 environmental study. Following that, Montgomery said, they hope to have all of the major work done in 12-16 months.

“We are excited. The people who are really important are seated back here and live in the community of Franklin or in Southampton County. We wouldn’t be here without them,” he said of Greg Applewhite, Eric Drake and others who have been with the company, which is operating a facility in the Southampton Park. “But if it wasn’t for the talent pool, this wouldn’t make sense. There are some hard workers here.”

Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. President Amanda Jarratt said they have been working with Providence for a year to find an area suitable.

“It is really important that you took the steps to make sure they stayed in the area,” Jarratt said to council. “The entire staff has been great to work with in the process, at the local level, as well as the corporate office in Memphis. I’m sure they will make a good corporate citizen.”

Council voted 6-0 to execute the deal, with Ward 3’s Greg McLemore absent.

“We are so appreciative that you have trust in Franklin and that you have made a vote of confidence by purchasing this, and you are going to bring the existing business here,” Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn said.

If the company provides hourly wage employees an average of 150 percent of the federal minimum wage, then the city will rebate 50 percent of the machinery and tools taxes paid to the city for the first five years. Should the company create five new jobs, the city will provide a rebate of the utility tax in decreasing amounts over the 5 years. With five new jobs, the city will rebate 10 percent of the annual electric bill for 3 years. With $1 million to $2 million in investment and creating 10 new jobs, the city will rebate the annual electric bill for 5 years.

The city will also rebate city fees, including those from the Department of Community Development, as an incentive if the company creates five jobs and invests at least $500,000.

Should the company fail to invest at least $1.25 million in 36 months, the city can exercise an option to buy the site for $25,000, or the company can pay the city $75,000 and Franklin will no longer have a claim to the property.