Smucker Wins Tax Break for Memphis Expansion

By Andy Meek

The J.M. Smucker Co. is staying put in Memphis.

The company has walked back the decision it announced in 2010 to close its Memphis plant and lay off employees by this year. That’s because Smucker is getting a tax break for a $55 million expansion it’s planning.

The city-county Economic Development Growth Engine Board Monday, Feb. 18, approved a 12-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes benefit for the company, including the option for an additional three years. That would save the company several million dollars in taxes, and in return the company would keep 125 jobs in Memphis.

Smucker vice president Bob Kenner told EDGE officials several factors played into the decision to keep a presence in Memphis, including the tax incentives offered.

The company’s PILOT application explains the project will retrain the company’s current remaining workforce to produce products using new machinery and technologies.

“The packaged consumer food industry is highly competitive, and profitability is dependent on volatile agricultural commodity prices and other difficult-to-predict variables,” Smucker’s application reads. “As such, the certainty of tax abatements for a specified number of years influences the company’s choice of location for long-term capital investments.”

Smucker announced in 2010 it would close its Memphis plant and lay off 161 employees by 2013. The intention was to consolidate its operation to improve its supply chain as part of ongoing efforts to enhance the company's long-term strength and profitability.

The company’s Memphis operation dates back to 1969.