Borla granted five more years of payments in lieu of taxes

John Thompson • Apr 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Industrial Development Bond Board unanimously gave the go ahead Tuesday to allow another five years of payments in lieu of taxes for the Borla properties, which occupy the former Texas Instruments facility at the Okolona Road exit off Interstate 26.

Borla manufactures high-end exhaust systems for car enthusiasts. The company is nationally known.

The Industrial Development Board had previously granted Alex Borla a five-year payment in lieu of taxes when he moved his company from California in 2008. Carter County Tomorrow President Tom Anderson said the board could have given Borla as long as a 20-year agreement for payments in lieu of taxes under state law and said 10 years is not uncommon. He said such agreements are the only incentive the state has allowed the counties in the recruitment of industry.

Borla attended the Tuesday meeting and said his plan had been to transplant his company, survive the recession, and then to grow. He said the recession lasted a lot longer than he expected, but the company has been successful in overcoming the economic difficulties.

“We have taken over a facility much larger than we really need,” Borla said, but he is working to get other companies to locate to his campus. In response to a question from board member Joe LaPorte, Borla said the building has 320,000 square feet and his company occupies about 150,000 square feet. He said the total acreage of the property is about 103 acres, nestled between the interstate and the foot of Buffalo Mountain. The CSX Railroad runs adjacent to the western side of the property.

Because Borla has so much available space to offer prospective clients, Anderson has been able to market the site as one of the few that are immediately available, complete with gas lines and fiber optic cable. He said Borla “is one of our biggest economic drivers” and whenever Borla sets up an exhibit at national automobile shows, he also sells Carter County.

Festiva Hospitality recently announced it would open a call center in the building, creating 99 jobs. Anderson said Festiva was impressed Borla installed all the cubicles and had them ready.

“When a tenant moves in, we take care of everything,” Borla said.

During the 2010 census, Borla became the site for a census office. That large office space was developed into an area with strong security systems. The vacant offices are now a very attractive location for Anderson and Borla to market.

In addition to Festiva, two other companies are considering locating at the Borla facility. Each would bring 250 jobs.

A longer payment in lieu of taxes agreement, Anderson said would enable Borla to pass the savings on to prospective tenants.

Borla said he also will be making “quite a sizable investment in the facility to keep it alive and keep it going.”

He said the former Texas Instruments and then Siemens building “belongs to the community.”

Judy Veeneman made the motion to authorize Carter County Attorney Keith Bowers to draw up the necessary documents to make the payment in lieu of taxes extension happen. It was unanimously approved.

In other matters, the board also unanimously expressed a willingness to extend a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for Send The Light Distribution for five years. The company took over the old Frank Schaeffer Books distribution center that is now controlled by Trey Hollingsworth. The current payment in lieu of taxes agreement had been made in order to bring Infinity Spas to the building in the Watauga Industrial Park. The agreement remained in place when Send The Light relocated to the building.

Anderson said Send the Light distributes religious books and literature and has created 103 jobs. He said the company is now negotiating to buy the building.

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