An artist’s rendering of the planned expansion at Henny Penny’s Eaton campus. Contributed

Warren County agency to save Preble County manufacturer close to $500K

Henny Penny and the port authority have agreed to a lease that enables the company to avoid sales tax otherwise owned to Preble County and state. The port authority is an economic-development agency formed by the Warren County commissioners.

On Oct. 23, the port board approved leases with Henny Penny on development of 75,000 square feet of space for manufacturing, 45,000 square feet of space for engineering and product development, employee space, and a wellness center at the company headquarters in Eaton, according to the leases.

The company is expected to spend $7.8 million on building materials and the leases will allow it to avoid sales tax of $566,500, according to Martin Russell, executive director of the port authority.

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The Warren County agency is to split $85,000 in fees paid by Henny Penny with Preble County, which has no port authority.

“If we come in and assist, they do not have to create a new entity, seed it with financial resources and have the administrative duties. We are a service provider and believe we are responsive and helping them do great work for Preble County,” Russell, also deputy administrator in Warren County, said.

While avoiding sales tax on building materials, Henny Penny “agrees to pay, or to cause or require to be paid, any and all real property taxes, assessments, and governmental charges, including, without limitation, payments in lieu of taxes, if any,” according to the leases.

As a result, the Warren County Port Authority will own the buildings for 10 years and lease them to the company.

Henny Penny, which could not be reached for this story, is to pay $20,000 for legal work on the deal, according to Warren County records.

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Henny Penny makes frying equipment for much of the fast-food industry. With the latest expansion the company is expected to add 7o employees at facilities at 1219 U.S. 35 in Eaton, company officials said earlier this month.

RELATED: Henny Penny embarks on ‘biggest expansion’ in company history

The company said the latest expansion represented a 35 percent increase in floor space. In addition, 25,000 square feet are to be added to the company’s Wagner Building, Alex Morgan, Henny Penny vice president of brand, said before a groundbreaking event.

“We’re on an accelerated growth pace as we continue powering the world’s most demanding kitchens,” Rob Connelly, chief executive of Henny Penny, said. “The expansion of our Eaton-based world headquarters with additional space for production, innovation and employee well-being sets us up for another 62 years of success.”

JobsOhio is also expected to provide state assistance to the latest project.

MORE: Henny Penny announces leadership changes

In October 2014, the Warren County Port Authority closed its first deal with Henny Penny. The company employs about 600 people in Preble County and has facilities in Paris, France, and Sohzou, China. The company’s $7.5 million, 44,000 square foot expansion was completed in 2015.

In July 2017, the company and Warren County signed amended agreements for a $2 million deal on construction of about 10,000 square feet of administrative office space, according to Matt Schnipke, director of economic development and port authority deputy director in Warren County.

Staff writer Tom Gnau contributed to this report.

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