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VOL. 131 | NO. 190 | Thursday, September 22, 2016

U of M Gets Economic Boost, W.M. Barr PILOT Approved

By Michael Waddell

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The University of Memphis will get a development incentive boost around its campus, a longstanding Memphis-based manufacturer has been granted tax incentives to expand on Presidents Island and a gift-wrap company has received an amendment to its tax incentive that will allow it to add staff.


The Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County approved the three requests Wednesday, Sept. 21.

The University Neighborhood Development Corp.’s request sought to establish a tax increment financing district, or TIF, for an area around the U of M campus where development is flourishing. The area spans 601 individual parcels within three square blocks of the Highland Strip between Poplar Avenue and Park Avenue.

The TIF funds generated there will pay for streetscape improvements, including the addition of new street lights, signage, sidewalks, gutters, planters, utility work, and street-calming (i.e. traffic-slowing) measures.

The Highland Strip just west of the U of M campus is being reinvigorated by a variety of mixed-use developments and is one of Memphis’ more active construction areas inside the Interstate 240 loop.

“Generally speaking, they want something on Highland Avenue, at least in the Strip area, where traffic really slows down because you want people to feel free that they can walk across the street,” said Reid Dulberger, president of EDGE. “We believe all of these public improvements will spur private investment.”

The project must now go before the Memphis City Council and County Commission for the next series of approvals.

EDGE also granted a nine-year PILOT to W.M. Barr & Co. Inc. for a $12 million expansion and renovation project at its three facilities on Presidents Island.

W.M. Barr’s expansion will allow the company, which manufactures paint removers, solvents and household cleaning products, to bring production back from China and ship more than 1 million units per week from Memphis.

W.M. Barr will add 40 employees averaging $39,944 in salary to its current staff of 179, resulting in an average wage of $52,800 for all 219 employees. The total project investment includes $2 million in real property improvements and $10 million in new manufacturing equipment and conveyor systems.

“The big part of this investment is in new machine equipment so their space will be much more efficient,” Dulberger said. “They’ll be able to retain the 179 employees they have today and hire 40 new employees and bring production back. Those are the kinds of jobs that support a family and the kinds of jobs we want and need in this community.”

With the PILOT expansion, W.M. Barr & Co. will save $1.1 million in city and county property taxes and create a local tax benefit of $8.8 million.

The project will include the addition of 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space at 2105 Channel Ave. and the renovation of W.M. Barr’s other facilities at 2121 Channel Ave. and 2210 Buoy St. on Presidents Island. Renovation work will involve the removal of an obsolete tank yard and renovating a blast-proof batching area.

Meanwhile, Impact Innovations, which specializes in seasonal gift wrap and paper products manufacturing, was approved for an amendment to a PILOT it was granted in November 2011. The change will allow the company to hire 20 additional employees, and it plans to invest an additional $1 million in personal property and $85,000 in real property for a total investment of $11.7 million.

Impact had spent a considerable amount of time looking for a large space (350,000 square feet) where it could consolidate all of its manufacturing and distribution, but had been unable to find a suitable facility, so the possibility of the company moving to another community was a big concern.

“We didn’t want to lose this company,” said Dulberger. “We feel like we helped nurture this firm. They’ve been successful here, and they were willing to stay here. They found a second space for 75,000 square feet. Not an ideal situation, but they were willing to accept it.”

Previously, Impact Innovations first partnered with EDGE for a six-year real property PILOT to lease 275,000 square feet on East Shelby Drive, retain six employees and add 19 new positions after acquiring Cleo Wrap in 2011. Then in 2015, the company expanded and partnered with EDGE again on a three-year PILOT, committing to investing $7 million in new gift-wrap printing equipment and adding 18 new full-time, permanent positions.

The new amendment adds three years of benefit for Impact’s property at 6269 E. Shelby Drive and nine full years at 4800 Southridge Blvd.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173