NORMAL — A Canadian agriculture equipment company is eyeing a manufacturing plant between Hudson and Normal that could bring up to 500 jobs to the area.

Brandt Group of Companies' Illinois operation is expected to make agricultural equipment, including augers, belt conveyors and grain carts. The company is the largest John Deere dealer network for construction in the world.

Brandt would acquire a 200,000-square-foot facility formerly used by Kongskilde Industries north of Normal, on North 1425 East Road, which is in a county enterprise zone that allows for tax abatements.

McLean County Unit 5 School District, Heartland Community College, Normal Township and McLean County must sign off on the proposal, which calls for a tax abatement during tax years 2018 to 2027.

The Unit 5 school board has scheduled a meeting for Monday. The McLean County Board will meet Tuesday.

This is similar to the Rivian (Automotive) deal,” Barry Hitchens, Unit 5 school board vice president, said Saturday. “The abatement is setting targets for the number of employees they would need to reach each year. If they meet those goals, they would get an abatement of their property taxes.”

Hitchens said Brandt hopes to hire between 300 and 500 employees over seven years. Current annual property tax revenue from the site and adjacent land for Unit 5 is $79,800, he said. 

“Yes, we’re getting nearly $80,000 in taxes, but if no one purchases this property, it will start to deteriorate and the property value would go down significantly,” said Hitchens. “If they’re bringing the potential for 500 new jobs to the community, that would have a definitely economic impact.”

Unit 5 Board President Jim Hayek said "it's always tough" for the district to consider tax abatements.

"Our largest source of revenue is from property taxes. It's always difficult when we are asked to give up some of that," said Hayek. "On the flip side, we have to look at it in terms of a benefit for the community and we will have to weigh that risk." 

According to the abatement proposal, Kongskilde is downsizing and moving elsewhere in the Twin Cities.

The Denmark-based company sold its grass and soil divisions to CNH International in 2016, about a year after it unveiled a $10 million expansion at its Hudson plant. Kongskilde and neighbor Nussbaum Transportation both had asked for a sales tax incentive when they developed the sites in 2012.

Credited with building one of the first grain augers available in Canada, Canada-based Brandt employs more than 1,800 people in Canada and the United States, with markets in more than 20 countries and six continents. It recently surpassed $1 billion in annual revenue, according to its website.

“Despite our 80 years of perpetual growth and success, in many ways it feels like we’re just getting started. Look for many exciting things to come from Brandt. The best is yet to come,” President Shaun Semple says on the company website.

Brandt, based in Regina, is the largest privately owned company in Saskatchewan and among Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies program.

Brandt companies include Brandt Agricultural Products Ltd., Brandt Developments Ltd., Brandt Engineered Products Ltd., Brandt Equipment Solutions Ltd., Brandt Finance Ltd., Brandt Positioning Technology and Brandt Road Rail Corp. Brandt Tractor Ltd. is the largest privately held John Deere construction and forestry dealership in the world, the website said.

Brandt Group of Companies is not related to Brandt Consolidated, a worldwide agricultural company based in Springfield.

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