State, local governments offer incentives to Ventana - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

State, local governments offer incentives to Ventana

Cancer detection firm plans 500-job expansion in OV

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Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:00 pm

In conjunction with Ventana Medical Systems announcement Wednesday that it intends to expand its Oro Valley operation and add up to 500 new jobs, state and local governments have prepared a package of incentives for the company.

This Tuesday, Oct. 19, the Pima County Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss an agreement that would reduce the company's property taxes by about $8.2 million, or 75 percent, over a 10-year period.

Ventana, a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Roche, announced Oct 13 that it intends to bring 500 new jobs and $192 million in land acquisition, construction and new equipment expenditures to Oro Valley.

In exchange for that investment, and the creation of jobs paying 75 percent above the average in Pima County, governments are providing incentives.

Working through Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, Ventana is seeking federal Foreign Trade Zone designation. The label comes with tax benefits and reduced customs fees on internationally traded products. In an addendum to the Oct. 19 Board of Supervisors meeting agenda, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has recommended the supervisors support Ventana's Free Trade Zone application.

The designation also would benefit the company on its property taxes for a period of 10 years. Huckelberry estimates the tax break would benefit Ventana by the equivalent of more than $8.2 million in Pima County primary property taxes over the decade-long agreement.

If the total amount of the property tax incentive isn't met in that time, the county has suggested the contract be extended an additional two years. The incentive is not to exceed $10 million.

Huckelberry recommended the board, and the other affected governments, approve the reduced tax take and agree that Ventana would contribute a Payment in Lieu of Tax. That payment would ensure certain local governments receive the same amount in taxes that they did prior to the free trade reclassification.

Ventana's benefit would come from paying reduced property taxes on its expansion.

Local governments impacted by the tax reclassification would have to approve the company's application for Foreign Trade Zone designation.

The affected governments include Pima County, Amphitheater Unified School District, Pima Community College, Golder Ranch Fire District and the Joint Technical Education District.

Oro Valley officials also have considered providing some incentives for Ventana, including expedited development review and possibly forgiving up to $1 million in infrastructure impact fees, according to Pima County documents.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has offered the company a $3 million allocation of federal stimulus funding in the form of a job training grant.

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