AQUABOUNTY INFORMATION … Members of the North Central School Board listen to a presentation by WEDCO Executive Director Megan Hausch. (PHOTO BY LACIE FISH, STAFF)
By: Lacie Fish
A Board of Education meeting was held on Monday evening to discuss Aquabouty Farms LLC and its impact on the community and school. AquaBounty farms headquarters resides in Massachusetts. The Pledge of Allegiance and Roll call started off the meeting with all members present.
Mrs. Megan Hausch, the Executive Director for the Williams County Economic Development Corporation, started the meeting with a slide show presentation. The scope of the project, the building, location, jobs, the process of the enterprise zone, and how the entire process works were covered in the presentation.
The site search for the third farm for AquaBounty Farms new facility started in April of 2020. They narrowed down the site list to the top 5 in April/May of 2020.
A site visit happened in July of 2020 where all the “head honchos” came to the site ands began due diligence on two sites. The due diligence is not quite finished yet and” it just takes time”. Due diligence is reasonable steps taken in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially in buying or selling something.
Mrs. Hausch stated, “No project is set in stone until you see a shovel in the ground and a building going up. Always keep that in mind.”
AquaBounty Technologies plans to invest over $200 million in a 479,000 sq ft facility. That would make this building one if the largest in Williams County. It will produce 10,000 metric tons of salmon a year. AquaBounty has two existing facilities.
The facility in Canada is where they produce the egg and do research and development work. That facility has been around about 30 years. Their second facility is in Albany, Indiana. That facility produces around 1200 metric tons per year. In May of 2021 they sold out their first harvest. The pioneer facility will produce about 8 times the amount of fish.
Despite how it sounds, AquaBounty is a small company. They currently only have 80 employees total. At full compacity at the Pioneer facility they plan to employ 112 people with an annual payroll of over $5.4 million.
They will not hire 112 people on day one. This is 112 people in a 3-year period. That makes the cumulative average annual wage is just under $49,000. These jobs require several different skill sets. Things like biology and veterinary.
The product itself is GMO salmon. These fish grow in an 18-month period rather than a 3-year period. The company does not use antibiotic or contaminants on their product.
In the history of the 30 years the company has been around their fish have never gotten sick. They also have a process they follow in the event a fish needs to be disposed of. There are multiple barriers in the facility to prevent a fish or egg from escaping the facility. All fish in the facility are sterile.
The location of the facility will be behind Toledo Tool & Die. There will be a 2700-foot public road extension of Kexon Dr. There will also be a water treatment plant on site. The building will not be lit up. It will be a normal building with normal security lights. It will also not smell like fish.
This will be a bio secure facility; the company is working with the design team to figure out a way to include a viewing area inside the facility while still meeting all the biosecurity requirements. There will also be a fence all the way around the property.
AquaBounty has formed partnerships in Indiana with the surrounding Technical Centers, Colleges and the local schools. And they are ready to get those partnerships set up here as well.
AquaBounty has jobs with unique skill sets that few places in the area offer. Which is a big competitive advantage for them. So those with biology degrees, veterinary skills, and those that want to work with fish.
For this whole process to work the company must first apply to the Enterprise Zone Manager for a tax abatement. An internal review of the agreement and they start working on drafts of upcoming documents.
Then they reach out to school districts, tech schools and local school district to give them a formal notification the donation agreement. Then they go to the Village of Pioneer Council, and the County Commissioners. Everything is put together and then it goes to the Ohio Department of Development.
And for the life of the agreement the company must work with the Enterprise Zone Manager. If a company is found not to be in compliance, they can get their tax abatement revoked and be no longer eligible for any tax abatement moving forward.
The terms for this specific Enterprise Zone Agreement are as follows;
100% abatement for 15 years. A percentage of the projected savings are negotiated annually and donated back to the school. In this case it will be 4% to Four County, 35% to North Central, and 1% to the Williams County Infrastructure Fund.
That means they are really getting a 60% abatement because they are donating 40% to these different entities. This means that we are looking at about $11 million donation over 15 years to North Central Schools. Which is about $700,000 conservative donation a year.
Construction is expected to begin in November of 2021 with a $2million site preparation. 2022 will be phase 2 with a $50 million 214 thousand sq foot building addition so they can start bringing some of the eggs in and start the growing process. And lastly a $48mill phase for the rest of the facility. An auditor will get involved when the construction is 51% finished.
When payroll is over the $1million threshold you must discuss income tax revenue sharing. The Village of Pioneer has a 1% income tax rate. That means with the 112 job and $5.4 million payroll, the village will collect just over $50,000.
The law was put into place to help schools that are not fairly compensated through their donation agreements. Schools can ask for 50% of the income tax revenue sharing. The village can claim 35% of that funding for infrastructure costs to make a project happen. And the village can also provide services in place of goods.
In the end of the meeting the resolution to approve the Economic Development Acknowledgement, Waiver, Support and School Donation Agreement with AuqaBounty Farms Ohio, LLC and a 45-day waiver notice was put into motion and seconded. No questions or comments were made.
Meeting was adjourned at 7:06 pm
Lacie can be reached at email@example.com