Gov. Phil Bryant joined officials from Kohler Industries Tuesday to celebrate a $20 million expansion of the Wisconsin-based company’s Hattiesburg facility.
Just a few miles away, both the Forrest County Board of Supervisors and the Hattiesburg City Council held separate meetings before the governor’s news conference.
The two government bodies met to approve a settlement with Kohler that will require the county and city to reimburse it for $1.2 million in tax payments, according to a story in the Hub City Spokes.
According to Tammy Craft from the Mississippi Development Authority, Kohler will receive $2.6 million to relocate equipment and $300,000 for workforce training from state taxpayers. The city and county are providing tax exemptions and assistance for infrastructure improvements.
The company says it’ll be consolidating its North American manufacturing operations from Wisconsin to Hattiesburg, where the company will lease an additional 300,000 square feet where failed solar panel manufacturer Stion was located.
The company will continue to manufacture small, twin-cylinder engines for use in zero-turn and residential lawn mowers and the new facility is supposed to create 250 full-time jobs. The state incentives alone add up to $11,600 per job.
Stion closed its Hattiesburg operation in 2017 and still owes state and local taxpayers more than $93 million in incentives.
Kohler, Forrest County and the city of Hattiesburg reached a deal in 1996 to lure the company, which built a small engine manufacturing plant in the Forrest County Industrial Park. The city and county denied a Kohler an exemption on its taxes in the 2010 tax year after honoring it from 1998 to 2009.
Kohler sued in 2014, asking for a full refund on the taxes the company paid since 2010. The agreement says the taxpayers will pay for the settlement, interest free, over a 10-year period.
The company asked for $2 million in its lawsuit.