Friday, 20 April 2012 19:34

Hexcel, Gavilon plan expansions

Hexcel, Gavilon plan expansions

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Hexcel Corp. and Gavilon Grain announced expansions Thursday, bringing Decatur-area industrial expansions in the past six months to $323 million.

Hexcel said it would spend $150.5 million to build a new acrylic fiber line, which will add 35 employees to the 150 it now has.

New employees will average $49,000 in annual wages, not including benefits.

Gavilon, formerly DeBruce Grain, increased an ongoing expansion by $6 million, from $10.3 million to $16.3 million.

The 12-employee grain-handling facility will add three to eight employees. Its new hires will make an average of $53,000 per year before benefits.

City Councilman Charles Kirby said the expansions are a positive economic sign that will assist schools.

“They’ve been through a number of years of proration, so this obviously comes at a very good time,” Kirby said.

The Hexcel project will generate $606,250 in sales-tax revenue for Decatur, Morgan and Hartselle schools during the construction period, this month through 2015.

The school systems and the state Education Trust Fund will receive property taxes of $570,000 a year from the project.

The local benefits come at a cost.

The Decatur Industrial Development Board agreed to abate $463,000 a year in non-educational property taxes for 10 years. It also agreed to abate $4.9 million in sales and use taxes during Hexcel construction.

Hexcel’s decision to expand in Decatur was not automatic, according to Morgan County Economic Development Association President Jeremy Nails.

The company first had to go through the bureaucratic hurdles of getting Tennessee Valley Authority to auction off 74 acres of land adjacent to the Hexcel plant.

“There are some obstacles on the TVA site that could have swayed them to go anywhere else, which would have ended expansions,” Nails said.

The company has fully developed its original 28 acres, so this and future expansions require acquisition of TVA land.

As a result of the land purchase, the Decatur site is now Hexcel’s largest worldwide by acreage.

Hexcel has 18 plants in North America, Europe and China. It is a primary supplier for Boeing and Airbus passenger jets and for Sikorski helicopters. Hexcel’s main global competitor is Toray Carbon Fibers, which also has a Decatur plant.

Gavilon handles and ships grain and fertilizer. It operates at the old Cargill facility. Cargill closed in 2009, reopened briefly, then sold the plant in 2010 to DeBruce Grain. Gavilon took over when it acquired DeBruce. Gavilon both ships grain out and receives it, depending on the season.

“This is a corn-deficit market between October and March,” said plant manager Kyle Crenshaw, meaning that demand for feed corn exceeds supply. In other months, corn is shipped to other markets. Much of the corn is hauled to Mobile by barge for foreign export.

The company also handles liquid and dry fertilizers.

In 2010, DeBruce announced its plan to begin a $10 million renovation of the Cargill property. On Thursday, Gavilon said it will increase the size of the expansion.

The additional investment will increase school property taxes from Gavilon by $20,000 a year. During the construction period, the increase will be $75,000.

The Industrial Development Board agreed to abate an additional $17,000 a year in non-educational property taxes for 10 years for the project. The IDB also approved abating an additional $110,000 in non-educational sales taxes during the construction period.

“This is a sign of the economy starting to recover,” Kirby said. “It’s also a sign of a lot of hard work and cooperation being put in by people in Decatur.”

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