County puts off consideration of call center offer.
The Lane County Board of Commissioners was set to vote today on a $50,000 incentive to help lure a call center to Cottage Grove, with the potential to bring up to 250 jobs with it. The money would come from video lottery funds received from the state.
But after discussing the proposal with officials in Cottage Grove, the county staff decided it was premature to put together a package and will put the matter on the agenda in May or June, if needed, Economic Development Supervisor Sarah Mizejewski wrote in an e-mail.
"After a discussion with the city of Cottage Grove, one of our partners on this project, we decided to pull the agenda item related to this project," she wrote. "There have been some modifications to the proposed funding mechanisms, and it became clear to us that we needed to re-evaluate any potential incentive package that may be considered from the Lane County Video Lottery Program.
"Therefore, we thought it made sense not to have the board of county commissioners consider this matter at their meeting on April 23. In the coming weeks we will be having discussions with our partners on this project and expect to bring the matter back to the board at some point in May or June if it is needed. At this point, it is premature to speculate what, if any, incentive package may be offered by Lane County for this business recruitment effort."
The proposal for the incentive was posted online as part of the supplemental information for today's commissioners meeting. It was accompanied by a copy of a proposed letter from Sid Leiken, the chairman of the Board of Commissioners to John Stadter, president of First Call Resolution, the company that is considering opening a center in Cottage Grove, which had been referred to by the code name Project Grove.
"To show our appreciation to Project Grove, should you choose Lane County as the preferred location to do business it is our intent to offer an incentive package in the amount of $50,000 from the Lane County Video Lottery revenue dedicated to economic development purposes," Leiken writes in the letter, dated April 4.
The money "would be provided to assist First Call Resolution in costs related to tenant improvements and the build-out of the vacated space located in the Village Center in Cottage Grove. This incentive is in recognition of the 100-250 new permanent full-time equivalent jobs the business will create in Lane County as part of your company's expansion plans," the letter says.
Video lottery money, by state statute, can only be used for economic development purposes, Mizekewski said. Business recruitment is under that umbrella.
"There have been some modifications to the proposed funding mechanisms and it became clear to us that we needed to re-evaluate any potential incentive package that may be considered from the Lane County Video Lottery program," Mizekewski said.
The city of Cottage Grove is moving forward with infrastructure work to extend fiber optic cables to the site First Call Resolution is considering.
"We don't have a final commitment from the business owner," City Manager Richard Meyers said in an e-mail. "However the council has agreed to extend the fiber into that area regardless because it will help bring that area back to life."
The area being considered is a 10,000-square-foot space in the Village Center on Highway 99 near the city's northern edge.
The call center company has operations in Grants Pass, Coos Bay and Roseburg.
The company wants to expand, not relocate, so no other Oregon communities would be affected by the project, according to a memo to the county board, prepared by Division Manager Glenda Poling and Mizejewski. The memo said the company offers competitive wages for the industry and an "exceptional" benefits package that includes profit-sharing.