Local company will use tax abatement to hire at least 23 employees
by: John Klicker, R.R. Donnelley’s Gresham plant on Halsey Street is set for a $14 million expansion thanks to city’s tax abatement program.

R.R. Donnelley, a national printing company that has had a Gresham presence since 1969, is the first business to be granted a 5-year tax abatement under the city's new Enterprise Zone program.

The printer, which once had as many as 300 employees at its Gresham plant, but has since cut back to nearly half that number, will invest at least $14 million in equipment over the next 18 months and hire at least 23 new employees.

In return, the company will get a tax abatement on its new capital improvements from the city of Gresham.

Janet Young, Gresham's economic development manager, said the tax abatement program was the tipping point for R.R. Donnelley, which had considered four of its facilities for expansion.

'They had several places they could look to and this was part of their justification for choosing Gresham,' Young said.

She added that when it comes to creating new jobs in a community, cities should focus on already established companies.

'We talk a lot about recruiting new companies, but it's terrific to see a program like this helping an existing company,' Young said

Kris Anderson, a controller for R.R. Donnelley, said the company is involved in 'ongoing discussions on additional equipment and changes that are not at the detail level,' with a potential investment of $30 million in the Gresham plant, located at 17401 N.E. Halsey St.

The company is the first to apply for a tax abatement under the city's recently approved Enterprise Zone, which requires more than the state's basic criteria for an enterprise zone-approved company.

'We have a minimum investment level higher than the state's,' Young said. 'When we proposed the enterprise zone, Gresham said 'We want more than the state's minimum requirements.' '

To qualify for Gresham's Enterprise Zone, a company must make a minimum $1 million investment; must have a procurement plan to increase purchasing with Gresham companies; and at least 75 percent of all employees must be paid at least 200 percent of minimum wage after one year of employment.

The company also must provide 'benefits to employees that meet or exceed national average and must offer sufficient training and advancement opportunities for all employees.'

The additional criteria basically limits the Enterprise Zone to large manufacturing companies, Young said, and should increase the number of higher-than-average wage jobs in Gresham.

Eligible businesses receive 100 percent property tax abatement for the first three years. Companies may also apply for an extended tax abatement, but must be approved by the Gresham City Council. The 5-year abatement adds two years to the program, but a company must pay 25 percent of its new property taxes to the city for a 'community service fee' in years four and five.

The Enterprise Zone program will save R.R. Donnelley at least $1 million in property taxes over the next five years.

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