Monsanto not coming to city

Tax break withdrawn, company seeks different location for facility

Monsanto is no longer planning to bring a seed distribution and equipment storage operation to Greenwood.

The announcement at this week’s Greenwood City Council meeting was met with gratitude from local residents who had asked for the city to withdraw a tax break being considered for Monsanto. Greenwood withdrew its offer of a $1.6 million tax break to Monsanto last month, with the mayor and city council citing public opposition to the project.

“Locating this project within the city of Greenwood is no longer our best option to meet the needs of our business,” Monsanto spokesperson Christi Dixon said in a written statement.

Three Greenwood residents spoke in opposition to Monsanto again at the city council meeting this week. They reiterated their concerns about Monsanto’s history of environmental issues and the safety of genetically modified crops, thanking the city for not going through with the tax break.

Monsanto has had a poor reputation for environmental safety and isn’t the type of business Greenwood should be trying to attract, Greenwood resident Gary Olson said.

“I don’t want Monsanto around here in any way, shape or form,” he said.

Greenwood resident Randy Goodman, who previously served on the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission, said providing a tax break to Monsanto wouldn’t have been appropriate given the concerns of whether genetically modified crops are safe.

Council member Chuck Landon said he didn’t believe the city should have bowed to the public pressure to withdraw the tax break for Monsanto. If Greenwood never offered tax breaks to a company that has faced lawsuits or past concerns of environmental issues, the city would have to exclude almost every major corporation, he said.

John Copeland, whose family has farmed in Johnson County for seven decades, said he was disappointed in Greenwood’s decision to withdraw the offered tax break.

“I think there is a large misconception with the public on why Monsanto was coming and why they wanted to have a facility here,” he said.

The research Monsanto does is essential to helping farmers grow enough food to feed the U.S. and the world, and getting Monsanto into Johnson County might have led to other agriculture research companies coming as well, Copeland said.

The St. Louis-based international agriculture company had initially requested a 10-year, $1.6 million tax break on $28.7 million of equipment. Monsanto planned to lease a 144,000-square-foot building on the east side of Greenwood along Graham Road to be used as a location to redistribute seeds for testing and to store farm equipment.

A $1.4 million tax break was also being considered for the Becknell Industrial, developer of the building. That tax break is now being resubmitted since its proposed tenant, Monsanto, is no longer coming to the site.

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.