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031319-blm-loc-1brandt

Canadian ag manufacturer Brandt Industries is now producing augers, grain belts and drive-over decks at the facility in rural Hudson, just north of Normal.

BLOOMINGTON — As Brandt Industries grows its plant north of Normal, the local enterprise zone is growing with it.

Officials plan to expand the zone, a multicounty area eligible for state incentives, to include more property at 19500 N. 1425 East Road in rural Hudson — helping Brandt get a sales tax rebate for materials used in a building project.

"This is just one of the best localized tools that we have for development,” said Zach Dietmeier, vice president of marketing and communications for the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, during Wednesday's McLean County Board finance committee meeting.

Dietmeier said it's not yet known how much Brandt might get back from the state through the enterprise zone. That depends how much Brandt spends on building materials for the expansion, part of $40 million in investment the company plans to make at the former Kongskilde plant.

"It's on the north side, directly north, all the way up to the county road," said Dietmeier. "They haven't said exactly what it is, but it could be storage. A lot of their shipping may be expanded by the roadway, and likely there will be some expansion for their welding operations. Plans can change, though."

The zone, which includes parts of McLean and Ford counties, last grew in 2016 for Destihl's new brewery in northeast Normal. The company got about $150,000 in state tax credits on the $14 million project.

The zone is currently 14.1 square miles and can be up to 15. County Administrator Bill Wasson said officials aren't concerned about running out of available area.

"Hopefully (we are) in a few years. That means we've identified opportunities to expand the enterprise zone for economic development," he said.

Wednesday's presentation was the first step for the expansion, which must be approved by several public bodies and be the subject of a public hearing. That's expected to be done this spring, said Dietmeier.

The finance committee also advanced a property tax abatement for Brandt, which would total at least $637,000 over five years. That's dependent on the company having 50 full-time employees; Dietmeier said it's close to 90.

That abatement also will need to be approved by several local taxing bodies.

"Both the construction at the plant, including improvements to both exterior and interior, and preparation for expanded workforce ... bodes well for their intentions," Wasson said of the abatement last month. 

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Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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