Editorial: Project ideal for incentives

Lawrence Journal-World editorials

The Lawrence City Commission was right to provide Grandstand Glassware and Apparel with incentives to expand its business and add jobs in Lawrence.

Last week, the commission provided a 10-year property tax abatement to Grandstand, which is planning a $5 million expansion at its plant in East Hills Business Park. The abatement is for 50 percent of city property taxes on the expansion project, with the potential for 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 was started last year and is designed to spur economic development in Lawrence’s industrial parks: East Hills Business Park and VenturePark. The program offers a streamlined and simplified application process.

“I fully support it,” Vice Mayor Lisa Larsen said to Grandstand President Chris Piper about the expansion and tax abatement. “I appreciate your business and your history. Obviously, this is what we want, so thank you very much.”

Grandstand manufactures decorated glassware, apparel and promotional products. The company was started in 1988 and has more than 200 employees and a payroll of more than $9 million per year.

Grandstand needs additional warehouse and manufacturing space because of increasing product demand. Grandstand plans to add 112,000 square feet to its facility at 3840 Greenway Circle. The expansion is expected to cost $8.5 million in construction and equipment.

The company projects that the expansion will add at least 50 jobs over the next 10 years.

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 changes to the business such as the addition of an in-house branding agency and e-commerce operations mean many of the new jobs will be higher-paying jobs.

Jobs will begin being added in early 2019, Piper said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to support Grandstand’s request. It is the third project to request incentives under the Catalyst Program.

Grandstand’s expansion is exactly the kind of project the Catalyst Program was created to encourage. The City Commission made the right call in approving it.

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