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Johnson Controls, which operates an automobile battery manufacturing plant on Pear Street, has announced a partnership with JD.com, a Chinese firm that specializes in e-commerce. Contrary to concerns voiced by some rank-and-file employees at the plant, officials with the parent company say the partnership does not represent a change of ownership for the firm.

Multiple manufacturers in St. Joseph are planning expansion projects that would add more jobs, but the projects will rely on tax incentives.

On Monday, Dec. 4, the St. Joseph City Council will vote on two Chapter 100 Industrial Revenue Bond issuances for Altec Industries and Johnson Controls Battery Group.

The incentive program allows industrial groups to purchase new property, such as manufacturing equipment, without paying full property taxes.

If passed, Altec would see an abatement of 75 percent for the first five years and 50 percent for the next five. Johnson Controls would see 50 percent abatement for 10 years. During that time, the city would own the property for both projects.

Director of Planning and Community Development Clint Thompson said these tax bonds make it possible for St. Joseph to keep jobs and also create new tax revenue where there was none before.

“If the city wasn’t competitive offering these companies this type of public assistance, Johnson Controls and Altec could just as easily expand their operations in another location,” Thompson said.

Altec is planning an $80 million project that will include $44.4 million in new capital investment, including manufacturing and nonmanufacturing equipment.

That expansion would add 105 full-time jobs over the next three years.

Johnson Controls hopes to use the incentive program for a $24 million capital investment for an expansion that would add 51 new full-time jobs and would invest a total of $35.7 million over a year.

“I would say both companies will start the hiring process next year and they have a ramp-up period to meet that new job total in the next three years,” Thompson said.

The City Council also will see a resolution to approve tax incentives for Purina Mills Inc., which is planning an expansion.

That group is hoping to see Chapter 100 abatements for $22 million in personal property as well as $10 million for real property using Enhance Enterprise Zone incentive money.

That project only will add two jobs but will retain more than 40.

“It’s important to not only try to attract new business to the community but also support the existing business,” Thompson said.

Brendan Welch can be reached at brendan.welch@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.

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