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WGLT, an NPR station in central Illinois, is following every move at the Rivian manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. The electric vehicle startup has gone from stealth mode to big-time player in the auto world, attracting attention (and big money) from companies like Ford and Amazon.

Brandt Also Set For State's EDGE Tax Credit At New Plant

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Brandt Industries USA wants to buy and expand the Kongskilde plant between Normal and Hudson.

Brandt Industries will be getting more than just local tax breaks if it brings a new plant to McLean County.

Officials say the Canadian agriculture equipment maker will also be getting a potentially lucrative state tax credit through the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program.

The exact amount and details of the EDGE tax credits are unknown. Local officials say they don’t know the details. A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which administers the EDGE tax credits, did not respond to a request for comment.

Kyle Ham, CEO of the local Economic Development Council, told Unit 5’s school board on Monday that his organization helped Brandt seek and obtain an EDGE tax credit. Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel confirmed the EDGE tax credit during an interview with GLT on Tuesday.

That state tax credit would be in addition to the local property tax breaks approved this week by the Unit 5 school board and McLean County Board. Those property tax incentives—called abatements—will total at least $600,000 over 10 years. Brandt only gets the money if it meets certain hiring milestones, escalating to 300 jobs by 2024. Brandt would also have to provide in-kind contributions to Unit 5, such as student mentorship or donated equipment.

The incentives—tax breaks tied to jobs—are similar to what local taxing bodies approved for Rivian in 2016 when the startup automaker announced plans to move into the former Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal. Those tax breaks were approved in December 2016. Then in March 2017, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity announced that Rivian would also receive $49.5 million in state tax credits for the creation of 1,000 jobs over 10 years.

“The revived EDGE credit program was just signed into law in September, so we will be the first award under the new program and the last under the old one (Rivian),” said Zach Dietmeier, director of marketing and communications for the Economic Development Council.

Unit 5 school board member Mike Trask asked Brandt President Shaun Semple on Monday why the company needed the property tax breaks. The company does $1.5 billion in sales each year.

“The other sites we were looking at had even far greater incentives. Some had land that we could have. Some had financing options,” Semple said. “We chose Bloomington because we believe it’s strategically located in a good area. The incentives are important and it tells us the community is behind it.”

“It’s important to offset some of the startup costs here. It’s not like we’re moving across town. We’re moving from Saskatchewan to Bloomington, which is a long way’s away,” he added.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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