Columbia company wants tax break to add 135 jobs

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COLUMBIA - Over a hundred new jobs could be available for Columbia residents in the near future. The company Dana Light Axel Products is seeking approval from the Chapter 100 Taxing District Review Panel to receive a tax break on an investment to the company's Columbia plant.

The company manufactures parts for off road vehicles. It wants to invest $39 million into new machinery and equipment and wants a 50 percent tax abatement on the investment. The company currently employs 89 people at its Columbia plant, and the investment could provide the area with 135 additional positions.

Darin Preis, Columbia Board of Education member, will vote on behalf of the board at the Chapter 100 review panel. Preis says he believes the deal will benefit multiple parties involved and appreciates the company's commitment to hiring local residents.

On Monday night, the Board of Education unanimously agreed Preis should vote in favor of the proposal.

"They are planning to draw from the local employment pool so it won't be attracting new people, but it will be creating good jobs for local citizens. So it's not creating new costs for any of the taxing entities, like Columbia Public Schools, but it is increasing the revenue that is available through the other 50 percent of the tax," Preis said.

REDI representative Dave Griggs presented the details of the proposal to the board and answered any questions members had. He said the Dana plant previously employed up to 400 people, but technology phased out a majority of the employees. 

The review panel will meet Thursday, Aug. 18 to vote whether to approve the abatement.

This would be only the third Chapter 100 bond the panel has approved. ABC Labs was the first to receive an abatement, and the break will end shortly after a 10 year period. Heinz and Kraft received an abatement last year for a local factory.