A California-based food and beverage manufacturer is requesting a tax abatement on $18 million in new equipment at its Central U.S. headquarters in south Columbus.
Columbus City Council members will consider a request from Heritage Distributing Company, Inc — doing business as Ninth Avenue Foods — for a personal property tax abatement on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held in the council chambers of Columbus City Hall. It will also be livestreamed on the city’s website.
Vice President of Development Joe Lunzer wrote in a letter to city officials that the company’s current plans call for an investment of $18 million in new manufacturing lines, including one processing line and one packaging line. It’s expected that the project will result in an additional 10 jobs at the plant.
“The proposed equipment investment will add capacity and jobs to Ninth Avenue Foods recently completed, state-of-the-art facility which houses the company’s central U.S. headquarters, manufacturing, and R&D operations,” Ninth Avenue stated in its application. “The proposed equipment includes an additional cutting-edge beverage manufacturing line specializing in dairy (milk, organic milk, lactose free milk, etc.) and dairy alternative beverage (oat milk, almond milk) processing, as well as an additional packaging line for these products.”
If the council approves Ninth Avenue’s request, the new personal property taxes will be phased in over a 10-year period, with the percentage of abatement decreasing each year. Assistant director of community development Robin Hilber said it’s estimated that the company would pay about $654,000 in new taxes over the 10-year period, with the abatement saving them approximately $975,000.
The council previously voted in 2021 to approve Ninth Avenue’s request for tax abatements on $32 million in real property investment and $70 million in personal property investment for equipment. Hilber said at the time that the company’s decision to locate the plant in Columbus was contingent on the approval of these incentives.
According to Lunzer, Ninth Avenue recently finished construction of its new $103 million-plus dairy and plant-based beverage production facility on the south side of Columbus.
“As of today, we now proudly employ 85 persons at our 220,000 SF Columbus facility, including manufacturing, logistics, and R&D positions,” he wrote to city officials in late August. “As previously pledged, we fully expect to reach 101 full-time positions before the end of next year.”
The 10 jobs forecasted from the proposed $18 million investment would be in addition to the 101 promised in 2021, he said.
According to the company’s application, it’s estimated that the 16 remaining jobs from the previously approved abatement and the additional 10 from the proposed new abatement will have an average hourly wage of $27.68 altogether. The company expects to reach a total of 111 jobs in 2025.
Where to learn more
To see a full agenda and materials for Tuesday’s Columbus City Council meeting, go to columbus.in.gov/clerk-treasurer/city-council-agendas/.