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Partnership representatives give PIC details

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Members of the task force considering a second industrial park heard presentations from representatives of the city, City Utilities and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce at its most recent meeting, Feb. 9.

Staff members from these three partners in the first park, one of whom also represented the fourth partner, the Springfield Business and Development Corporation, fielded questions about the city and CU's costs for the Partnership Industrial Center, and the recovery of those costs.

Karl Plumpe, senior manager for economic development for City Utilities, estimated that the utility spent about $165,000 annually on the park since 1997, and before then spent about $95,000 annually from 1993-1996.

The total expended on the park to date is $4.2 million for all of the partners; CU and the city have been responsible for infrastructure such as streets, lighting, water and sewer, while the chamber and the SBDC have headed the marketing efforts for the park, Plumpe said.

The total expenditure on the park is expected to be $6.7 million, while total reimbursements are to projected be $6.9 million.

"So as you can see, we're expecting a surplus of about $100,000 to $200,000 on this project," Plumpe said.

Members of the task force asked Plumpe what incentives were extended to businesses to locate in Springfield, citing such examples as First Card. Plumpe estimated total incentives to First Card were about $200,000 during the call center's setup in Springfield. First Card repaid those costs in about five months, Plumpe said.

Jack Gentry, of Positronic Industries and a member of the task force, asked why no such incentives were extended to existing businesses. Plumpe said Positronic Industries had participated in similar incentive programs.

Some members of the task force have also expressed concern about a proposed development by the principals in Springfield Underground. The development would comprise 402 acres, including 55 acres of commercial, 87 acres of office and 260 acres of manufacturing.

The parcel on East Division would be rezoned as a planned development if City Council approves, and was to have been heard by Planning and Zoning Commission Feb. 11, said Louis Griesemer of Springfield Underground.

The item was tabled from a previous Planning and Zoning meeting to give residents living near the proposed development time to consider the impact the park will have on them.

"I think we were able to clear the air of a lot of misconceptions and we're ready for Planning and Zoning to hear the proposal," Griesemer said.

Griesemer added that a second partnership industrial park would not be a deterrent for his park, nor did he consider his park a deterrent for a second partnership park.

The task force is also charged with studying how wages in Springfield have been affected by the existence of the park. The group is to hear from Phil Tate of the Missouri Department of Economic Development on that topic Feb. 16.

Members of the task force are also to get more information about the tax benefits of a second park to the Springfield school district. Mary Lilly Smith, economic development coordinator for the city, said the Strafford school district, which receives the tax benefits from the Partnership Industrial Center, was not receiving as much actual benefit as it would seem.

"The net gain to the school is fairly small because of the complexity of the school funding formula," Smith said. The school has estimated its net gain from the park's taxes as somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 annually.

The task force is to conclude its work and make a presentation to City Council in March.

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