Business seeks property tax cut: Meat-processing facility looks to Hancock County for headquarters

HANCOCK COUNTY — A meat processing and distributing company is considering Hancock County for its new headquarters.

Indianapolis-based McFarling Foods, which provides meat products to restaurants across Indiana, may move its headquarters to 30 acres of land along County Road 300N near Mt. Comfort Road.

The company would build an approximately 198,000 square-foot facility near Mt. Comfort Elementary School to house its administrative offices, and inventory and package operations. The move would transfer the company’s 150 employees — whose jobs pay an average wage of $21 per hour not including a benefits package — to Hancock County, said Hancock Economic Development Council Director Skip Kuker.

Negotiations have been underway for seven months, Kuker said.

Though the company is considering other areas for the $8.5 million facility, Hancock County tops the list because of its central location and the residential areas surrounding the site that could attract potential employees, said McFarling Foods president Peter Barickman.

This week, company leaders asked the Hancock County Council for a roughly $1 million tax break as an incentive to choose the local site for their project. They’ve requested to pay no real estate property taxes during their first three years in Hancock County. Then, their taxes will be phased in during the seven years that follow.

The company would still pay more than $750,000 in taxes during the next 10 years, the life of the tax abatement, Kuker said.

That’s significantly more than the $700-$800 the bare farmland — which county leaders have been trying to find a business to occupy for 10 years — generates in taxes a year, he said.

The council gave the proposal preliminary approval. A public hearing is expected to be held next month before county officials vote again. The next county council meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. July 20.

Barickman told county officials the business — which is employee-owned — has outgrown its space on west 14th Street in Indianapolis and can’t expand there.

Relocating will allow the company to more than double its inventory space and increase its overall footprint by half, he said. With plans to grow its annual sales from $90 million to $150 million in the next few years, the company will need the extra space, he said.

Company leaders hope to eventually add 132,000 square feet to the facility, Barickman said.

Though there are no plans to create new jobs immediately, the company would bring more than $6 million in payroll to the county, Pritzke said.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.