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|Officials consider options to pay V-Vehicle incentives|
Local officials could announce by late next week how to pay for a $15-million incentives package local governments pledged to help lure V-Vehicle to Ouachita Parish.
That's what Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo told The Ouachita Citizen Tuesday night prior to the Monroe City Council's regular meeting.
V-Vehicle officially announced last week it would take over the former Guide plant in eastern Ouachita Parish, creating 1,400 new direct jobs and 1,800 indirect jobs. V-Vehicle says it will manufacture fuel efficient automobiles at the former Guide facility, which is located off Interstate 20 in eastern Ouachita.
Earlier this month, the cities of Monroe and West Monroe as well as the Ouachita Parish Police Jury agreed to contribute up to $15 million to bring V-Vehicle to the region.
Local officials met Tuesday to discuss how they would fulfill the financial obligation, Mayo said.
"We had a very productive meeting where we discussed different options that we are taking back to our councils and the jury to talk to our colleagues to make a final decision on which option we will choose to move forward," Mayo said. "There is some time sensitivity in this, so that decision will probably be made within the next week."
"I would say by next Friday," Mayo added.
One economic development official told The Ouachita Citizen that voters could be asked to approve a two-mill property tax to pay for the local incentives package. The official said the two-mill tax would need to be levied for no less than 10 years.
Mayo said a property tax is one option, but other options are being discussed, too.
"The millage has been discussed, and that is one option," Mayo said. "But, then there are other individual options relative to each individual entity."
"What we're doing is putting everything on the table to make a determination as to which one would be more feasible to pursue, understanding that we are all in this together regardless of what option we do," he said. "We are going to pull together as a parish to make this happen, and whatever option we pursue, that's the way we're going to present it to the public."
Mayo said the excitement over V-Vehicle's announcement has reached a fever-pitch. He hasn't seen this much enthusiasm in the region in some time.
"The excitement is as high as I have ever seen it," Mayo continued. "I think there is a championship feeling in our community, and I think quite frankly the best is yet to come.
"There's a lot of synergy going on right now, and we think it's going to be unbelievable. This is an opportunity to build on all of this positive synergy that's going on. Also, it's evident of what teamwork can do when we are focused and unified."
The agreement local officials reached to provide the incentives package called for OEDC Land Corp. to pay the first $2 million toward the offering.
Another $2 million would be paid by the cities of Monroe and West Monroe and the police jury. The city of Monroe would provide 50 percent of the $2 million, followed by 25 percent funded by the city of West Monroe and the other 25 percent paid by the police jury.
The remaining $11 million in local funding would be paid by the three governmental entities along with the I-20 Economic Development Corp.
The city of Monroe would provide 45 percent of the $11 million, followed by 30 percent from the police jury, 20 percent from the city of West Monroe and 5 percent from the I-20 Economic Development Corp.
Besides the $15 million in local incentives, the state agreed to provide some $70 million-$100 million in incentives for V-Vehicle.
Meanwhile, plans are in the works to expand the former Guide plant from 425,000 square feet to roughly 750,000 square feet to house V-Vehicle's operations. The former Guide plant is owned by James Davison, a businessman from Lincoln Parish who also is an investor in V-Vehicle.
Construction work to expand the former Guide plant is expected to create some 750 jobs.