A pet food plant in Logansport's industrial park is planning a $15 million investment to expand 50,000 square feet and hire at least 15 new employees.

BHJ USA produces pet food in the Cass County-Logansport Industrial Park on Ind. 29 south of city limits.

Bill Cuppy, president of the Cass-Logansport Economic Development Organization, addressed the company's plans at a city council finance committee meeting Wednesday night. He also briefed officials on the company's request for tax breaks on those plans.

About $5 million of BHJ USA's investment is for real estate while about $10 million is for personal property, Cuppy said. The tax abatement on the new real estate would be 10 years, descending from a full break to 5 percent in its final year. BHJ USA's personal property tax abatement would be five years, starting out with a complete break before dropping to 20 percent in its final year. If granted, the abatements would allow the company to save about $300,000, Cuppy said.

Cuppy said by phone Thursday that the expansion would add onto the south and east sides of the plant. It would result in a new machine room, plating room, freezer areas and dock area. Construction is estimated to start in late July and wrap up a year later.

BHJ USA plans to use a local company for the construction, Cuppy said at Wednesday's meeting.

The company has 112 employees and a payroll of over $4 million while paying over $100,000 in property taxes and about $800,000 to Logansport Municipal Utilities, Cuppy said.

If city council approves the real estate abatement, Cuppy said the Logansport Redevelopment Commission would also have to sign off before it's granted. The industrial park is one of the city's tax increment financing districts, which the redevelopment commission oversees.

City council will vote on BHJ USA's proposed abatements in a special session at 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 18 in the Council Chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 601 E. Broadway. Council members will also vote on continuing 11 tax abatements with other city companies at that meeting.

Of those 11, A Raymond Tinnerman's was the only one whose future officials questioned Wednesday, as the company is currently eight employees shy of where it planned to be. Cuppy said those empty slots are for higher-level positions that are difficult to find qualified candidates for. The company is strategically working to fill those jobs via efforts like an internship program through Vincennes University, Cuppy continued.

Logansport City Councilwoman Teresa Popejoy and Cuppy said A Raymond Tinnerman also recently had several retirements. New employees aren't typically hired at their predecessors' salary levels, which is likely contributing to the company's overall payroll decrease as well, they said.

Cuppy said A Raymond Tinnerman's agreement over its abatement calls for the company to forgo the tax break should its payroll fall below 80 percent in a given year. Payroll is currently over 11 percentage points above that threshold. The abatement was granted in 2016 for a $4 million investment in new production equipment.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130

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Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He covers Logansport and Cass County government. He can be reached at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or by phone at 574-732-5130.