Council suggests 5-year tax abatement

A property group in Greenwood won’t have to pay property taxes on a new building for five years as an incentive from city government.

Southside Property Group is building a 10,000-square-foot office building at the Airport Parkway Business Center along Main Street, across from Valle Vista. Express Employment will be occupying 6,000 square feet of the facility.

The Greenwood City Council has given initial approval for a five-year tax abatement that forgives the entire bill on the new building during that time period. Southside Property Group also owns the land and will continue to pay property taxes on it.

The developer had asked for the standard 10-year tax abatement, which allows property taxes to be slowly phased in for a decade. City governments use abatements as a way to help companies during the initial years of an expansion.

In this case, city council member Brent Corey recommended offering five years tax free for the new building, instead.

Express Employment franchise owner Mike Heffner is also a partner of Southside Property Group.

A standard, 10-year tax abatement allows a business to be tax free in year one, and pay 10 percent more in taxes each year for the next nine years, but Southside Property Group and the city of Greenwood will each benefit more from a five-year abatement, Corey said.

“The bigger companies usually want the 10-year abatement, but (Heffner) is a small business owner and he needs the tax breaks,” Corey said.

The five-year abatement is not typical, but it saves Heffner and Southside Property Group almost the same amount of money, and the city collects about the same amount of money as it would during a 10-year abatement, Planning Director Bill Peeples said.

The five-year abatement will be up for a vote at the Aug. 17 city council meeting. Construction of the new building will begin this fall.

“This abatement will allow us to help revitalize that area and grow jobs in our internal office as well as place more people into jobs in our community,” Heffner said. “I understood why (Corey) went that direction. It’s the same amount and makes things much easier administratively on everyone involved.”

Express Employment is currently located in the Wilgro Shopping Center off of Smith Valley Road. When Heffner was looking for a new location, his search led him outside of Greenwood, where he has been located for 10 years.

Heffner and his business are important to the city, and the five-year abatement was a way for the city to thank him for staying and keeping his operations in Greenwood, council member Thom Hord said.

“When you have good business owners, and more importantly people that reflect the city like he does, you have to do everything you can to help him stay,” Hord said.

Express Employment’s Greenwood franchise plans to move into the new building once construction is complete, by the end of 2016. Express Employment will use 6,000 square feet of space, and the other 4,000 square feet will be leased to other businesses, Heffner said.

In 2005, Express Employment had 2,400 square feet of office space and had three employees. The company currently employs 18 and plans to add seven more positions with wages starting around $21 an hour over the next five years after moving into the larger building, Heffner said.

Express helps more than 250 southside clients each year and has put 7,000 people in jobs during the 10 years since the franchise opened. The company helps industrial, administrative, accounting and engineering companies find employees, Heffner said.

The new building will be built on the north side of Main Street along Acordia Drive. Express Employment and Southside Property Group will be putting a new sign at the entrance of the business park, as well as replacing the current sidewalk.

Southside Property Group is going to upgrade the business center to a new look, which will refresh the business park and attract new business, Heffner said.

Corey has lived in Greenwood for 30 years and said the property along Main Street, where Express Employment will relocate, has always been vacant. The property is highly visible, and building at the location should spur development, Corey said.

“That business park, that place is probably 70 percent empty, and it will start to grow again all because of what he’s going to do out front there,” Hord said.

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Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.