Though the site of the new Briggs and Stratton Corporation distribution center is already under construction, the City Council unanimously voted to annex the site Tuesday night.
The annexation will increase tax revenue for the city, bringing in approximately $100,000 a year, which will go to Auburn public schools, said Phillip Dunlap, City of Auburn economic development director.
“The facility was going to be built regardless, they can build it in the county,” Dunlap said. “Briggs was willing to pay higher lease rates to be in the city so their taxes would support the schools. They want to support the schools.”
Briggs and Stratton, a gas engine manufacturer, has a manufacturing plant in the Auburn Industrial Park inside the city limits that has over 400 employees. The distribution center will add 24 jobs.
The City Council also unanimously approved a package of incentives Tuesday for Briggs and Stratton to thank them for choosing Auburn. The package allows the company to not pay non-educational property taxes and sales-and-use taxes for the next 15 years which total approximately $525,263, according to city records.
The distribution center will cement the city’s relationship with Briggs and Stratton, who provides the funds for the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show, for years to come, Dunlap said.
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This move for Briggs and Stratton comes as they open two distribution centers, one in Auburn and another in Germantown, Wisconsin, while closing a number of smaller warehouses, according to a press release from Briggs and Stratton.
Briggs and Stratton was choosing between Newnan, Georgia, and Auburn for their distribution center location. It chose Auburn because of its ties to the community.
“It’s just an exciting day for Auburn,” Mayor Pro Tem Ron Anders said. “To see one of our initial investors in our community say, ‘We want to be in Auburn, and we want to dig that foundation even deeper.’ So, it’s a time to be thankful, no question.”
Industrial Review Board
The City Council also unanimously appointed Jay Gouge, former Auburn University President, and Chris Roberts, dean of the College of Engineering, to the industrial development board. They will both serve six-year terms beginning on Oct. 10, 2018.
Roberts has previously served one full term on the board, while this will be Gouge’s first term. Ward 6 councilman Dick Phelan nominated Roberts and Gouge.
“Not only because has he been president of the University but because he has been president of the University he can really do a lot for the Industrial Development Board as far as recruiting future companies,” Phelan said.
Gouge, a native of Waycross, Georgia, and two-time graduate of Auburn University, has experience in industrial development from locations around the country. In 2013, Gouge played a large part in bringing GE Aviation to Auburn, said Bill Ham, Auburn’s mayor.
When the city was trying to bring GE Aviation to Auburn, Gouge and Ham attended a dinner with leaders from the company. Ham credits Gouge with being part of the reason GE Aviation chose to come to Auburn.
“He has so many contacts and so much expertise,” Ham said. “He’ll be a great benefit.”
Gouge said he decided to apply because he has years of experience in industrial development in other college towns such as Clemson, South Carolina, home of Clemson University.
“Strong relationships between the city and the University have always been there, lots of trust,” Gouge said. “The hope would be as new opportunities come up, we’ll be able to bring the University perspective as part of the discussion.”
The City Council also voted to purchase 7,000, 95-gallon roll-out carts to use in the city’s expansion of the single-stream recycling program. These carts will be added to the Auburn’s 5,600 carts that are already being used for the single-stream recycling program.
The city was able to buy these carts with the grant it received from Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
“We saw how well that worked (the initial launch of the program), and we were going to expand single-stream whether we got this grant or not,” Tim Woody, environmental services director, said. “Thankfully, we got it.”
With the single-stream recycling program, residents of Auburn can put all of their recyclable materials into one bin that will be sorted through at the recycling center.
Previously, Auburn has required residents to sort through their recycling. In 2017, the city launched single-stream recycling in a portion of the community.
Aluminum cans, flattened cardboard, all types of paper, plastics numbers one through seven and steel and tin cans are all acceptable materials to be placed in the single-stream bins. Items such as glass, Styrofoam and plastic bags are not acceptable.
Glass recycling is available 24 hours a day at the Recycling Drop-Off Center at 365-A N. Donahue Drive.
Residents who will now be eligible to participate in single-stream recycling, will receive a post card in the mail in October. Everyone is already opted into the program. Those that wish to not participate can contact the environmental services office to opt out of the program.
In the households that already have single-stream recycling, they typically put their recycling bin out every other week, Woody said.
“Nationwide, typically, when you introduce single-stream (recycling), 60 percent of your eligible customers participate,” Woody said. “Right now, we have about a 35 to 40 percent participation. We think that will double. So going to the number or carts we want to, 12,600, will bring us up to about 82 percent.”
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