Lawrence City Commission approves incentives for manufacturer’s $5M expansion; 50 new jobs expected
photo by: Journal-World File Photo
The city will be providing a 10-year property tax break to a Lawrence manufacturer with plans to expand its operations and add dozens of jobs.
Grandstand Glassware & Apparel is planning an approximately $5 million expansion at its East Hills Business Park location. At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission voted unanimously to provide Grandstand a 50 percent property tax abatement for 10 years on the expansion project, with the potential to have a 70 percent abatement if the building is constructed to certain energy-efficiency standards.
Grandstand requested the property tax abatement under the city’s Catalyst Program, which the commission created last year. The program provides a simplified application process for industrial projects that want to build or expand facilities in VenturePark, East Hills Business Park or other industrially zoned land.
Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen said a request like Grandstand’s is what the program was built for.
“I fully support it,” Larsen said. “I appreciate your business and your history. Obviously, this is what we want, so thank you very much.”
Grandstand, which manufactures decorated glassware, apparel and promotional products, began in Lawrence in 1988. Grandstand needs additional warehouse and manufacturing space because of increasing product demand, according to a city staff memo to the commission. Some of the company’s products include beer glasses for the growing number of microbreweries nationwide.
Grandstand plans to build an approximately 112,000-square-foot expansion of its facility at 3840 Greenway Circle. The company projects that the warehouse expansion will add at least 50 jobs over the next 10 years. Grandstand President Chris Piper told the commission that in addition to the approximately $5 million expansion, Grandstand will be spending about $3.5 million this year for additional equipment.
“We’re excited about it,” Piper said. “It’s put us in a fantastic position for growth.”
The company now has more than 200 full-time employees and an annual payroll of about $9 million, according to the memo. Piper told commissioners there have also been changes to the business itself, including the addition of an in-house branding agency and e-commerce operations, which offer higher-paying jobs.
Commissioner Matthew Herbert asked Piper how soon Grandstand would be able to start hiring new employees. Piper said the company projects to add eight jobs in e-commerce, branding and management in the first quarter of 2019. He said the new equipment is scheduled to arrive by June 1, and that will require another seven jobs.
Grandstand’s is the third project to seek incentives under the Catalyst Program, and it will be expanding on land it already owns. The other projects included an expansion of Plastikon Healthcare LLC plant, also in East Hills, and the construction of speculative industrial buildings in VenturePark.
In other business, the commission unanimously approved a contract with California-based search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates to conduct a nationwide search to replace outgoing City Manager Tom Markus. The contract calls for a base fee of $27,200.