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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Tax breaks help lure food company to Pocatello

Gov. Butch Otter was in Pocatello yesterday to announce that Amy’s Kitchen, a manufacturer of frozen vegetarian food, will move into the vacant H.J. Heinz plant there, lured in part by the state’s new Tax Reimbursement Incentive Act. Amy’s Kitchen will get rebates on 26 percent of its state corporate income, sales and payroll taxes for 15 years. It also will get a 75 percent break on its property taxes, approved by the Bannock County Board of Commissioners, on the plant and any future investments.

Amy’s expects to hire 200 people in the coming months at salaries of just over $33,000 a year, slightly over the county’s average wage, and could employ up to 1,000 people within 15 years. The Heinz plant formerly had 400 workers.

Idaho Statesman reporter Zach Kyle reports today that the state tax incentive for Amy’s is estimated at $6.7 million. The new tax reimbursement incentive law took effect July 1; Skywest was its first recipient, for a plant in Boise. State Commerce Director Jeff Sayer told Kyle that Idaho competed with New Mexico to win the Amy’s plant; and that the state is now negotiating similar tax incentives with companies considering relocating or expanding in Post Falls and Sandpoint.

Two economists told the Statesman that tax incentives don’t work, and companies getting the breaks might have come to Idaho anyway. “We’re giving away the farm again,” said Peter Crabb, an economics professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Kyle’s full report is online here.

Otter, in a news release, said the plant is scheduled to open in December, and called it “exciting news for both the community and the state.” Bannock County Commission Chairman Howard Manwaring said, “It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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