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Taxing entities meet for first Chapter 100 meeting regarding American Outdoor Brands

Four taxing entities held their first meeting regarding a tax break for American Outdoor Brands, formerly Smith and Wesson Holdings.

Earlier this week, it was announced American Outdoor Brands would be building a $55 million distribution center in Boone County. The distribution center would be located on Route Z near Camping World.

Friday afternoon, AOB officials spoke to representatives from Boone County Family Resources, Columbia Public Schools, the Boone County Fire Protection District and Daniel Boone Regional Libraries.

The officials explained that AOB, in conjunction with Missouri Partnership, checked out 85 sites in 10 states and settled on Missouri.

Missouri Partnership is a public-private organization that works to bring new businesses to Missouri. Vice President of Business Recruitment Clint O’Neal said Friday he started working with AOB back in October, 2015.

He said there’s usually about a 15 percent chance that the organization will win a company in the end.

“When it comes to evaluating projects, we know that we live in a very competitive world,” he said.

Vice President of Operations for AOB Adam Birk, said they chose Boone County for several reasons including its strong labor force and competitive economic incentives.

AOB is projected to bring about 150 new jobs to Boone County. It already employs about 100 people in its plant there.

Birk and David Cooper, AOB’s attorney, could not confirm Friday how many local jobs would be provided.

Columbia Public Schools representative Darin Preis told Cooper and Birk a cautionary tale at the meeting concerning funding for the school district and said he wanted to warn them that abating too much property tax could affect the district’s ability to fund more schools to keep up with population growth in the future.

Cooper said that was why the company asked for the low 50 percent abatement instead of the 75 percent approved for Aurora Organic Dairy.

“We wanted the math to work for you too,” he said.

Currently, the taxing districts receive about $3,000 total per year from the property taxes on the land. With the abatement, they would receive about $2 million total in about 10 years.

The company also plans to conduct a traffic study to make sure the influx of truck traffic will not create too much congestion, considering there are schools in the area.

County commissioner Janet Thompson said she wants to work on a plan with city buses so that employees at AOB and other big industrial plants in the city can ride the bus to work instead of driving.

She said Friday she also hopes this Chapter 100 process will take longer than Aurora Organic Dairy’s, so that they can work on revamping the policy.

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