It also is left to the taxing bodies to set the tax abatement schedule under LERTA.
The Greencastle-Antrim School Board will discuss the LERTA program at its meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Greencastle Middle School library.
Eric Holtzman, president of the Greencastle-Antrim School Board, listened along with many other members of the school board Tuesday.
When asked for his opinion, Holtzman spoke in support of the program.
“This puts us on a competitive playing field,” he said. “I’d like to see LERTA be expanded to be fair to many businesses.
“If we can keep just a few hundred jobs, that’s several million dollars that comes into the community in general.”
While the county and school district can decide whether to participate in the program, the township determined what land will be part of it.
All five Antrim Township Supervisors voted to pass a resolution to include commercial and industrial properties in the LERTA program such as Manitowoc Cranes, the Food Lion distribution center, Beck Manufacturing, Eldorado Stone, Tarco Roofing Materials Inc., Nibble with Gibble’s Potato Chips, Precision Manufacturing and Engineering, Atapco, Matrix Development Group, Mitchell Machines, Timbermill Storage Sheds and Greencastle Bronze and Granite.
The program came into play when a representative of Matrix Development Group of New Jersey, which owns the World Kitchen facility on U.S. 11 in Greencastle, asked local officials to consider creating a LERTA zone to help Matrix upgrade the 600,000-square-foot facility.
Matrix currently is negotiating a renewal of World Kitchens’ lease and need to upgrade the facility or face the potential of the company leaving the area, which would affect about 300 employees.
Matrix Vice President Gary Hans and representatives of several other businesses spoke of the necessity of the program during the public hearing portion of Tuesday’s meeting.
“Matrix is willing to invest in local revitalization to upgrade the building to bring it up to modern standards and allow World Kitchen to continue operating from that site,” Hans said.
Patrick Coggins, vice president of Atapco, the developer of Antrim Commons Business Park at Interstate 81 off Exit 3, called on the supervisors to include as much industrial land as possible in the program to create an “even playing field” for as many businesses as possible.
Coggins implored them to take such a step and “send the message that Antrim Township is open for business.”
Atapco has about 2 million square feet available in Antrim Commons Business Park.
With Greencastle-Antrim businesses competing with areas to the north and south offering tax incentives, a number of those who spoke during the public hearing supported offering incentives and programs such as LERTA.
“This is a way to jump-start development. This could accelerate and stimulate development at a time when we need it more than ever,” said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation.