Archive for Thursday, November 30, 2000

Water issues endanger Intervet proposal

November 30, 2000

DeSoto officials have learned the city will have to increase its water supply if Intervet Inc. decides to locate here.

The city council approved an incentive package on Nov. 2 designed to attract Intervet to DeSoto. The package provides a 75-percent, 10-year tax abatement on the $28.5 million in new buildings Intervet would construct at the old Bayer Research Facility in southwest DeSoto and $9.5 million in personal property.

At the public hearing on the abatement request, Intervet official Paul Blotkamp said DeSoto is one of two cities being considered as a site for one of the company`s three U.S. regional facilities. The campus-like development would include a distribution center, administrative offices, production facility and research and development facility, Blotkamp said.

In 10 years, Intervet would employ 198 people at the facility with an average salary of $40,000 a year, Blotkamp said.

DeSoto city council members thought Intervet would announce its decision last week. The city council acted quickly on the abatement at the company`s request. The incentive package was approved after a public hearing on the abatement, the first time its details were made public.

Although Intervet hasn`t made a decision, it has been in contact with the city.

City Administrator Gerald Cooper said Intervet representatives have told the city they will require 30 million gallons of water a year at the campus. That is just beyond the city`s current ability, he said.

Intervet`s water demand might represent an opportunity to the city, which needs to increase its water supply, Cooper said. The city could supply the water from the water treatment plant it operates on the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. To do so, however, the city would have to install water lines from the plant to the city.

A large new customer could make that improvement more affordable.

"We might be able to pay off the cost of the water lines from their (Intervet`s) use," Cooper said.

Cooper said Intervet has indicated the city would have two years to find a solution to its water demand. That should be enough time to clear up questions about the future of the closed ammunition plant and, specifically, DeSoto`s request for Sunflower water treatment plant, he said.

At the public hearing, Intervet representatives told the city council the competition for the campus was between DeSoto and Dallas Center, Iowa. Currently, Intervet operates a swine-serum operation in Dallas Center.

Dallas Center City Clerk Shirley Peterson said Intervet has not yet asked the city for an incentive package or put such a request on the city council`s agenda.

Peterson did say she understood Intervet was working with Dallas County Economic Development Director Linda Schaut. Schaut could not be reached for comment.

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