City strikes deal with Coke on expansion
West Memphis council will issue bond, offer tax abatement
The West Memphis City Council affirmed its willingness to move on a new industrial revenue bond to back the expansion of a the Coca-Cola bottling plant in the city. Aldermen learned the city was in a competition with an out of state company owned site and used a resolution to say it was willing to issue the bonds and a payment in lieu of taxes abatement plan (PILOT) to win the expansion in the city. City Council action helped cinch the deal as Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated announced its intentions four business days later.
West Memphis Economic Development Executive Director Philip Sorrell presented the reolution during the first city council meeting in April saying it was a no-cost key to pave way for expansion of an unnamed business. At the time the Economic Development Director could not name the company due to a non-disclosure agreement.
“We have an existing business here in West Memphis looking to expand,” said Sorrell. “It will result in many good paying jobs well above the average. They are quite good manufacturing jobs.
Because we are in a competitive situation with this company having a facility in a bordering state, we have been working with state economic development to create a city package for expansion here.”
Sorrell noted the Economic Development focus was all too often on attracting new businesses but this opportunity would strengthen the local economy with more new jobs from a company already operating here.
“A lot of times we spend energy recruiting new businesses to the area but sometimes we are not paying close enough attention to the existing industries that are here,” said Sorrell. “This is a good opportunity to make a step forward in that direction.”
Councilman James Holt pointed to the Amazon headquarters deal falling apart in New York City for lack of government PILOT incentives and the negative comments of U.S.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“We ought to do this,” said Holt. “Let’s not be like New York. Let’s take this positive step forward.”
City Council unanimously approved offering the revenue bond package including promises from the state to attract the expansion project to the city.