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Tax aid backed for plant expansion

Evanston’s Economic Development Committee Wednesday night approved a plan to provide financial help to a local manufacturing firm’s expansion project.

Economic Development Planner Johanna Nyden describes the expansion project to the committee.

Ward Manufacturing Company, a metal stamping plant, is a family-owned business that’s operated in Evanston at various locations for 70 years.

It’s seeking to expand its plant at 2230 Main St. into a now-vacant building at 2222 Main St. and expand that building at a total cost for land, construction and equipment of about $5 million.

The company now employs 43 people — 37 in Evanston and six at a warehouse they rented in Morton Grove after running out of space at their current Evanston site.

Owners Michael and Tom Ward say that if the expansion is approved they plan to move the warehouse workers back to Evanston and may add six to 12 additional new jobs.

The committee approved two forms of assistance.

One is a proposed 12-year reduction in property taxes on the expansion site at 2222 Main St. that would cut the taxes owed on that parcel by about 60 percent, under what’s known as the county’s Class 6b program for industrial property.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons said that even with the reduction, the total property taxes paid on the two properties would be about $600,000 more during the 12-year period if the expansion in Evanston is approved than if Ward moved out of town in search of new space and both properties were vacant.

The other benefit is a proposed contribution from the city’s Southwest Tax Increment Financing District of $700,000 to cover the costs of rehabilitating the existing building on the 2222 Main St. site.

The TIF district, which is due to expire in 2013, has a balance of about $1 million and city officials say no other projects that would qualify to use the funds are on the horizon.

A final decision on the tax assessment reduction is up to county officials. The full City Council will vote on the TIF funding proposal next month. 

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