Council awards grant to local manufacturer

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

The city council unanimously voted in favor of the Mayor’s Economic Development grant to give the Arthur G. Russell Company (AGR) $95,000.

The Mayor’s Economic Development Committee provides grants to businesses that are expanding and/or moving to the city of Bristol.

Bristol economic development director Justin Malley spoke before the council at its Dec. 13 meeting and said, “We are doing this for AGR but then promoting it to other companies so they know what they can expect when they come here to Bristol.”

AGR is building 20,000 square feet of new manufacturing space, which Malley later said is a typical project for the grant program.

Located at 750 Clark Ave., AGR is a manufacturing company that develops and supplies automatic assembly solutions for medical, auto, consumer, food, and electronic industries. The company recently absorbed their former industry competitor, Bodine Automation Technology, in 2014 which stimulated a need for building expansion. The Mayor’s Economic Development Grant Award will give the company a leg up in their expansion process, and stimulate jobs in the city.

Grant awards are given based on tax revenue, which allows the committee to offer a payback time of one year, all the way to five years. The economic development executive works with the beneficiary business, getting their plans and taking them to the assessor’s office. There, he determines what new revenue the city will receive from the grant project.

The AGR project was created based on a five year tax payout because the anticipated real estate tax revenue is $15,000 annually. Over the five year span, the taxes generated will pay the city back the $75,000 that they put up for the building construction.

“Because we’re using taxpayer funds, we tell the taxpayers that while we give the company $75,000 upfront, we are going to make it back,” Malley said. “That money is new revenue we would have never seen.”

The second part of the program revolves around job creation, so the remaining $20,000 in grant money will be given as employees are hired within the corporation. During expansion, AGR intends to hire 20 new people for full-time positions. They will receive $1,000 for every full-time job given to a Bristol resident, and $750 for every non-resident hired.

Companies that receive economic development grants must meet criteria including their investment, financial strength, new tax revenue, and more. Should they cease operations in Bristol, they must pay back a percentage, if not the entire grant.

At the meeting, Councilor Calvin Brown said, “There is an ever-increasing need and focus on investing in the workforce, so I think that this is going to be an exciting place where the city can put its dollars in terms of economic development to make us even more competitive with surrounding communities.”

“It’s a great success story,” Mayor Ken Cockayne said.

The 20,000 square foot addition to Arthur G. Russell brings the building’s square footage to well over 100,000 square feet.