Purchase could bring at least 40 jobs to the area

Cookeville – MS Automation (MS) wants to expand facilities within the county. Growth has demanded it. To gain the space needed, MS is looking to purchase land at Highlands Business Park (HBP) in Cookeville at a discounted price instead of having a PILOT (payment in lieu of Taxes) mechanism in place.

The strategy will allow the city and the county (the property is jointly owned) to earn more immediate revenue by placing the property on the tax rolls. Cookeville Mayor Laurin Wheaton told the Upper Cumberland Business Journal this could be good for everyone involved.

But first, it needs to pass through the County Commission and the Cookeville City Council.

“We, along with the county, developed the Highlands Business park to be able to offer companies a place to come into Cookeville with a new location or expand their footprint,” said Wheaton.

In a PILOT program, property taxes are abated for a specific period based on a formula for periods up to 20 years. Savings is the incentive and can be invested back into the business.

“The PILOT formula typically requires a certain number of jobs, level of wages, and investment to be provided,” said Wheaton. “The PILOT is significantly less than what would have been paid for property tax.”

The purchase is what the city and county envisioned when they built HBP.

“Being able to work with a local company that wants to grow and bring high paying, quality jobs is the exact purpose of the Business park,” said Wheaton. “This is great for the city and county in terms of jobs and working with a local company to expand our local economy.”

According to Cookeville City Manager James Mills, the proposal would add 40 jobs, the lowest paying of which would start at about $60,000 a year.

“These are exactly the jobs we are wanting to offer the citizens of Cookeville,” said Wheaton. “Cookeville is in a place now that we can be very strategic about the jobs that we want to recruit, and higher paying jobs are at the top of our list. We are excited about this opportunity.”

It’s all about community, according to Wheaton.

“This is just another example of when the City and County partner together, the entire region benefits,” said Wheaton.

Image by gpointstudio on Freepik.

Ron Moses is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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