The Waseca City Council approved Birds Eye Foods’ parent company Conagra Brands’ tax abatement and business subsidy on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The council also approved the development agreement for Conagra’s new building at the meeting.
“This document is a historic document for the city of Waseca and the county of Waseca and the city staff deserve kudos for the hard work and negotiation that went into this,” Mayor Roy Srp said.
The tax abatement and business subsidy originally came before the council in August, but it was tabled to allow the Conagra developer to make comments and any changes to be discussed with the city.
Now that the tax abatement has passed through the council, the agreement is for 20 years with 50% of taxes abated. Waseca County approved a tax abatement for 65% of the county’s share for property taxes.
Waseca City Manager Lee Mattson said the city is reserving some tax capacity to help pay for the water main project.
The city tax abatement is not to exceed $2.54 million over the 20 years and the county tax abatement is not to exceed $2.65 million over 20 years.
With the tax abatement and business subsidy, the new facility must create 119 full-time jobs and 250 seasonal jobs by 2023. Conagra can create more full-time jobs than what is written in the agreement, which allows the company to create less seasonal work, but it can’t create more seasonal jobs than full-time jobs to meet the requirement. If the company doesn’t create the required amount of jobs in that time period it will have to repay a portion of the tax abatement plus interest.
Conagra plans to build a new building that is 220,000 square feet on 47 acres to replace the current facility. The new facility will operate as a fresh-pack-vegetable processing plant and is believed it will process corn and peas.
The development agreement specifies the location, how the property is to be used, the size of the facility, the approved tax abatement, the civil plan and other information on the project.
Part of the development agreement is the 16-inch water main project the council approved Stantec to complete on Brown Avenue. The improvements are needed to give enough water pressure to the new Conagra building site.
Talk of an additional water tower in town near the Conagra site happened as well at the Nov. 17 meeting, but the water tower is not necessary for the new building. Mattson said a new water tower would be helpful and the staff are working on securing state funding, but for the time being it is not a part of the project.