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Gerber Products Co. said late Wednesday that it will invest $30 million in a new product line that will create 50 jobs at its Fort Smith facility.
Gerber, a subsidiary of Nestle S.A., has had a Fort Smith baby food manufacturing plant since 1964. It currently employs approximately 480.
The city voted Tuesday to issue $30 million in bonds for the project.
“We appreciate the state of Arkansas and the city of Fort Smith’s partnership and participation in supporting our project,” Gerber President and CEO Bill Partyka said in a news release. “Gerber has had a long-standing relationship with the state of Arkansas and the Fort Smith community, and we look forward to continuing that relationship for many years to come.”
The project expansion will be helped by three tax programs.
Gerber has a PILOT agreement — payment in lieu of taxes — with the city to abate 65% of its property taxes for 15 years.
The company also qualified for two state incentives from the Arkansas Economic Department Commission: Create Rebate, an annual cash rebate (3.9% of payroll) based on the number of jobs added, and Tax Back, which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project.
“Since coming to Arkansas in 1964, Gerber has had a significant impact on the Fort Smith economy and has been a valued corporate citizen in the community,” state Commerce Secretary Mike Preston said. “They have chosen to remain here and expand numerous times, and we are always grateful to companies that have chosen to call Arkansas home.”