Local economic incentive for chip plant passes first test

Mar. 8—The Daviess County Council began another piece of the economic incentive for a new plant making micro-processing chips. The council cleared the way for a 10-year tax abatement for Strongbox, Inc. which will be the owner of the building that will be located in near Crane. The project was expected to cover a 100,000 square foot facility, but it has already expanded.

"They are already expanding the office, administrative part of the building another 25,000 square feet because they have additional people who want to be in there for what they hope to be doing down the road," said President of the Daviess County Council Tony Duncheon. "I think this is just a big step on what all is going to be happening there in the next few years. This is step one on the whole WestGate One area."

Paul Kite, with Strongbox, told the council he expects the company to be involved in more than one building eventually.

"We are working aggressively on this project," said Kite. "This will be the first of several facilities we expect to be working on. The first building may represent about 25% of what the project is bringing to the area."

The abatement the county will be offering is on 100% of the taxes on a $107 million building for 10 years. The offer is not what the county usually makes, but officials say the project has much more to it than what they normally see.

"The impact it is going to have job wise, and the impact it will have on future endeavors as well, this needs to be done without a doubt," said Duncheon. "They are discussing things. It is very preliminary now. There is additional expansion that will most likely happen."

Kite says the company plans to begin construction in June and have the facility operating by January 2025. The council is expected to give a final approval to the abatement in April.

In other business, the county received a number of reports on projects and funding currently underway.

Joe Morris provided an update on the activity of the Daviess County Visitors Bureau. He told the council that so far this year the innkeepers tax has generated $75,000 and he expects it to bring in more than $333,000.

The council received an update on the Integrated Re-entry and Correctional Support program underway at the county jail. Director Vanessa Phillips told the council the pilot project is generating tremendous interest around the state and will most likely be extended for a second year.

"There are so many moving parts going on in the county. There is a lot of grant money coming in, in particular with the opioid settlement," said Duncheon. "That is money that is going to be spent over the next several years on things that are needed in the community. A lot of thought and consideration has gone into where every dollar goes."

The opioid money is administered through a local organization called Daviess Advances Recovery Access Consortium. DARAC represents a number of health, mental health and corrections organizations looking to work with people suffering from opioid addiction. The council has approved nearly $200,000 in expenditures toward dealing with addiction.

In other items, the council:

* Approved $2,544 for overtime in Superior Court

* Approved a $150,000 appropriation from the revolving loan fund to the downtown Commons Project

* Allocated $650,000 from the cumulative capital development fund to pay for architect and engineering fees for the courthouse construction project

* Approved spending $24,000 from the health maintenance fund to pay for fighting tuberculosis

The council also allocated $15,496.23 to be used by the health department in detection and treatment of lead poisoning in small children. And the county approved a $740,000 expenditure by the Daviess County Solid Waste Board to purchase a compactor and gravel out of landfill fees.