Friday, March 27, 2009
By Eric Fleischauer
The Industrial Development Board authorized an increased tax abatement for Hexcel Corp. on Thursday because its expansion plans are proving more expensive than predicted.
In 2007, Hexcel obtained an abatement based on expected capital expenditures of $77 million. Because of higher material costs, the cost for the facility opening in September will be $100 million.
Hexcel is adding a fourth line to its plant, which is the company’s only U.S. producer of a precursor to carbon fiber. Hexcel’s main customers are Boeing and Airbus, which use the lightweight material to produce passenger jets.
The Decatur facility’s finance manager, Bright Bruorton, said the weak economy has had little impact on the local plant.
“We’re still on our basic business plan,” he said. “We have not had to lay off any employees so far.”
Total tax abatements from the city and state, previously estimated at $2.1 million during construction, are now estimated at $2.8 million.
The company in 2007 predicted the construction would add $266,250 in tax revenue to Decatur, Hartselle and Morgan County school districts. Its revised estimate is $345,508.
“Decatur has been good to Hexcel,” said Bruorton. “We’re glad to be contributing to the area economy.”
In three years, Bruorton said, the expansion will add 25 employees with an annual payroll of $910,000. Most of the employees will be chemical operators. Because of the experienced work force, he expects most will be hired locally.