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Business to expand, add jobs

October 18, 2012

Jennifer Laurent

County grants tax abatement for endeavor 
MARSHALL CO. — Gramm Holdings/Headsight, Inc. in Bremen was granted a tax abatement Monday evening during a Marshall County council meeting. Executive director of Marshall County Economic Development Jennifer Laurent accompanied owner Rich Gramm to the meeting to talk about the business’s planned expansion. 
“I like this part of my job the very best — when businesses are expanding in Marshall Çounty,” said Laurent. “In this case, we have a fascinating company doing innovative work in the agriculture sector. They are looking to bring in new talent, build a new building across the street from their current one, and purchase some new equipment.” 
Gramm said, “I don’t see myself as a businessman. I see myself as an inventor, a farm boy, a fix-it problem solver.” 
He explained that his business began when he patented a corn harvesting device in the 1990s. In 2000, he launched Headsight, Inc. “and we’ve basically hired one employee a year since we started. We’ve almost grown 50 percent a year for 10 years straight.” 
Gramm plans to expand his facility — located just south of Bremen — by adding an 18,000 square foot building which will house new research and development, computer aided design, and prototype production equipment. Laurent and Gramm stated that the new building represents an approximate $1.7 million investment, while the new equipment is also valued at approximately $1.7 million.
Gramm also said that the expansion will enable him to hire an additional six employees with an average annual salary of $60,000. 
They requested a three-year real property abatement and a five-year personal property abatement. 
County auditor Penny Lukenbill said that based on her calculations, each abatement would equal a little more than $20,000 in tax revenue. 
“You’re talking about a $41,000 to $42,000 tax abatement,” said Lukenbill. 
Councilmember Ralph Booker questioned the abatement request, saying, “If we pass this, let’s say these things don’t happen — then what happens?” 
County attorney Jim Clevenger responded, “Then you can deal with the fact that you gave this tax abatement and there are no new employees. You would be approving the resolution based on those conditions.”
“As long as there’s a good faith effort on both sides, I think this usually works out,” added Laurent. 
Gramm noted that Headsight uses products from several local companies. 
“There’s dozens of jobs that (this expansion) spiders out to — it’s not just at this location, at this business,” said Gramm. 
Council members pointed out that although they would be pleased to see other local employers add positions due to Headsight’s expansion, Gramm could not count other employers’ hires as his own for the purposes of meeting the conditions of the tax abatement. 
After some further discussion, council members unanimously approved the tax abatements for Headsight.

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