Missouri City attracts businesses through incentives

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As several of Missouri City’s business park developments continue toward build-out, more large corporations are moving in—taking advantage of tax incentives and abatements from the city and private developers—and bringing with them hundreds of local jobs and new capital.

“[Missouri City] continues to receive a great deal of interest and inquiries for commercial development,” said Joe Esch, director of economic development with Missouri City. “The success of projects like [the Beltway Crossing and Lakeview business parks]have helped create a positive image for development in the area as well as the city of Missouri City’s economic development efforts as a whole.”

Attracting businesses

Since breaking ground on its two business parks, Missouri City has attracted more than a dozen large-scale employers to the area, bringing about 2 million square feet of commercial space, more than 1,000 jobs and millions in new capital investments.

Missouri City’s Lakeview Business Park—a development along Buffalo Run that Trammell Crow began in 2008 during an economic downturn—is moving toward build-out. Three buildings have been constructed and sold to LT Foods, Flair Flexible Packaging and Allied Group, and a new project for CNC Manufacturing—which is expected to bring 70 jobs to the city—is underway. New businesses within the development have brought about $126 million in capital investments.

“Even with the downturn in the economy, Lakeview [Business Park] was able to attract business,” Esch said. “[Lakeview Business Park] really speaks to Trammell Crow’s commitment and partnership with the city and the county.”

Lakeview Business Park has 18 acres of development under contract with various tenants and is expected to contract an additional five acres later this year. Once built-out, the development is expected to house more than 20 buildings. About 16 acres are being actively marketed for new tenants, said Jeremy Garner, senior vice president with Trammell Crow.

“Missouri City has been very responsive in all aspects of this project,” Garner said. “[Lakeview Business Park] was a very large tract of land and is significantly bigger than what we would typically purchase.”

Beltway Crossing Business Park, along South Gessner Road, broke ground in 2007 when food service distributor Ben E. Keith purchased 82 acres for its new 500,000-square-foot facility. The $80 million structure opened over the summer and brought more than 200 local jobs.

“What this all means for Missouri City is over $500 million worth of new business to the city and over 1,500 new jobs,” Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen said. “We will have a daily workforce that will work in the city.”

Incentives and abatements

The Beltway Crossing and Lakeview business parks are located within Missouri City’s reinvestment zones—a designated area in which tenants and developers can receive tax abatements—a temporary reduction on assessed taxes paid to the city. These areas have allowed the projects to advance by offering a valuable business incentive for incoming companies, Esch said.

“When you look at abatements and the TIRZ, it is important to understand that if not for the incentive, the project would not occur,” he said. “You are getting something that you would otherwise not get. It is financially viable and is a good investment that brings capital and jobs to the community.”

Tax abatements are available on real property—the physical structure and infrastructure of a project—and personal property—the inventory and equipment. Individual companies can receive a freeport exemption from the city, which abates taxes associated with inventory and equipment that is shipped out or used within a 180-day period.

“When you have these manufacturing and industry companies, they often have more value in inventory than they do their buildings,” said Jack Belt, vice president of the Fort Bend EDC. “A lot of counties are starting to use incentives, so it is a very competitive landscape. We use these incentives as a deal closer.”

Each abatement and incentive is negotiated individually based on the merits of a particular deal, including the total capital, number of jobs and salaries a company expects to bring to the community, Belt said. A company can receive tax abatements for a maximum of 10 years.

Job market

With more than a 7 percent increase in employment levels between March 2012 and March 2013, Fort Bend County has been recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with one of the largest employment percentage increases in the nation.

According to the national report, the largest percentage of growth in the Fort Bend County job market was in the information segment—a 46.7 percent increase in one year.

“Not only did Fort Bend County accomplish the highest percentage of job growth year-over-year, but the quality of these jobs is outstanding,” said Jeff Wiley, president and CEO of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council. “These are high-paying jobs that require greater education levels and reflect top-notch skill sets available in our local workforce.”

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