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VOL. 127 | NO. 31 | Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Major Projects on Tap at EDGE Meeting

By Andy Meek

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Representatives of FedEx Express, a major steel producer, a medical diagnostics company and a manufacturer for the baking industry will all be in front of local economic development officials Wednesday, Feb. 15, in pursuit of financial incentives.

At the Wednesday board meeting of the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) body, officials will discuss a 15-year tax freeze being sought by Nucor Steel Memphis Inc.

Also, FedEx is seeking a tax freeze in support of a $141.9 million investment it’s making to expand its business by consolidating training facilities into a single location.

Oxford Immunotec Inc., a medical diagnostics company, is seeking a grant to help put its first U.S. location outside of its Massachusetts headquarters in Memphis.

And the AB Mauri Fleischmann’s Co. is requesting an eight-year tax freeze to help the company, which is a global leader in yeast and bakery ingredient products, retain its manufacturing facility in Memphis.

FedEx, the Memphis-based shipping giant that employs more than 144,000 people worldwide in its Express division, is looking to consolidate flight training activity into a single Air Operation Training Center. Additionally, the company would build a new building with 12 bays to house additional flight simulators and equipment to support training for the FedEx fleet.

As part of what it’s planning, FedEx would retain 333 existing jobs at its 3855 Airways Blvd. location. The company is seeking a 13-year tax freeze related to new manufacturing machinery and equipment and a six-year tax freeze on real property improvements for its training facility development.

Nucor currently has about 400 direct jobs in the city and has invested about $400 million in its operations here. The tax incentive it’s seeking would help pay for an expansion the company has in the works.

Nucor plans to increase its manufacturing output by up to 25 percent, create 27 new jobs at its 3601 Paul R. Lowery Road location and acquire about 42 acres on the east side of Paul Lowry from the Port Commission. That new acreage would help expand Nucor’s rail infrastructure.

In return, the company would invest $113 million to produce “high-quality carbon alloy steel for the automotive, heavy equipment and service center markets.”

The tax freeze would save Nucor a little more than $9.4 million in taxes over the 15-year term. During that same period, the company would pay a little more than $9.5 million in tax revenue.

Meanwhile, Oxford Immunotec would bring new medical research to the area with the location it’s planning for Memphis at 5846 Distribution Drive.

Oxford’s European headquarters is in Abingdon, England, and its North American headquarters is in Massachusetts. The company, which is developing new testing for diseases based on its patented T-cell measurement technology, would focus its proposed Memphis location on testing blood specimens for analysis using the company’s T-SPOT TB test.

That test is the company’s first product and is a new cellular blood test for the detection of active and latent TB infection.

The company is seeking a $100,000 grant to offset the costs of developing the site. Oxford also expects to invest more than $1.8 million and hire 25 employees by the end of 2014 for the Memphis facility.

“While Oxford has high aspirations for future growth, its management team is conservative and plans to fund this project using its own balance sheet, reinvestment of cash flow generated from its existing operations and assistance committed by the state of Tennessee,” the company wrote in informational materials to the EDGE board.

In other news, AB Mauri Fleischmann’s plans to invest $10.5 million in its yeast manufacturing facility in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park to expand output and make it more cost-competitive.

The company has operated a manufacturing facility in Memphis for more than 20 years. Its facility at 2743 Riverport Road makes, sells and distributes cream and packaged “wet” yeast to the baking industry, food service companies and consumers.

ABMF is attempting to lower total operating costs at its Memphis facility by $4 million per year, or 3.5 cents per pound produced. To achieve that, ABMF says it has to invest in new manufacturing machinery and equipment.

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