Finely-crafted beer and a property tax abatement may end up landing a new business and jobs for Lawrence’s East Hills Business Park.
City commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting agreed to consider a property tax abatement request from Lawrence-based Grandstand Sportswear and Glassware that would allow the company to move into a vacant manufacturing plant and add at least a dozen jobs.
Chris Piper, Grandstand president, said the company’s business has been booming thanks to contacts it has made in the growing craft brewery industry. The company is now shipping out about 125,000 customized pint beer glasses per week and serves more than 1,000 brewers.
“We have been able to ride that wave, and it has been a huge growth opportunity for us,” said Piper, who also is an announcer for Kansas University’s men’s basketball radio network and was a member of the 1988 National Championship team.
The company, currently located in the former Honeywell avionics plant at 2920 Haskell, has 52 employees and has added 16 since January. Piper is projecting that the company will add about 40 jobs over the next five years. The company pays an average wage of about $14 an hour, plus health benefits.
Piper has reached a tentative agreement to purchase the vacant manufacturing plant that formerly housed Sauer-Danfoss in the East Hills Business Plant. But Piper said financial incentives from the city will be critical in determining whether the project will be finalized. Grandstand is asking for a 65 percent, 10-year property tax abatement and also is seeking assistance with replacing the building’s outdated lighting system with a more energy-efficient system.
“Quite frankly, this project will be more than $5 million investment for us,” Piper said of his business, which he has owned since graduating from KU in 1988. “That is a huge chunk for us.”
City commissioners took no final action on the request Tuesday. Instead, they referred the application to the city’s Public Incentives Review Committee for a recommendation. City commissioners are expected to consider approving the request at their Sept. 20 meeting.
In addition to the glassware business, the company also sells athletic apparel and promotional items for a variety of businesses.