A tax abatement package approved unanimously by Smith County commissioners Friday means the county will forego an estimated $198,000 in property taxes over five years - in exchange for luring a major distribution business to the county, bringing up to 185 jobs in the next five years, and putting an empty facility to good use.

Tyler Economic Development Council President Tom Mullins has been working with GG Distributing for about two years in an effort to bring the alcoholic beverage wholesaler to the Tyler area. The firm eventually decided on a disused U.S. Postal Service facility near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 3311 and Interstate 20 in Owentown.

The tax abatement package is a five-year, 80 percent abatement on the $15 million project. It’s estimated to bring 160 new jobs to the area, but if the company creates 185 jobs, the abatement can be extended for a year.

“One thing to remember is that the building and the land have been off the tax rolls completely for more than 20 years,” Mullins pointed out following the meeting. “It was a U.S. Postal Service facility, so we collected no taxes on it whatsoever. The 20 percent taxes we’ll be collecting now is completely new revenue.”

GG Distributing General Manager Gary Steffey said the location appealed to the company because of its proximity to Interstate 20, Texas Highway 155 and, soon, Toll 49.

“We serve a 30-county area, so this particular location is really a center point for us,” he said.

Human Resources Director Michael Jenkins said that as the distribution center’s opening nears - which is expected to be in early 2018 - the company will begin hiring salespersons, delivery drivers, merchandisers and warehouse workers.

The company bought the former postal service sorting center, with about 100,000 square feet of space, and purchased 15 adjacent acres to build a second building with another 100,000 square feet of space.

The company plans to invest $15 million in the project. About $13 million will be spent on construction and renovation, with the remaining $2 million spent on equipment.

Commissioners will not meet on Tuesday, Oct. 11, because most will be out of town attending a conference.

Twitter: @ tmt_roy

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