Lyle looks to keep Agri-Steel in town

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The county board took a small first step Tuesday to help the city of Lyle offer an incentives package to keep a business from moving across the border to Iowa.

Agri-Steel, an agricultural construction company, may expand and build a new building. The company owns land south of Lyle within the city limits, according to county officials. But, the company is being courted by the city of St. Ansgar, Iowa.

According to county officials, Agri-Steel is looking to build a minimum 20,000-square-foot building. Owners Jeff and Brian Helle would not yet discuss the details or say which location they are leaning toward.

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The county board voted 4-0 — with Commissioner Mike Ankeny absent from the meeting — to waive a public notice period and allow the city to hold the Tax Increment Financing meeting sooner.

The city of Lyle could offer $149,000 in site improvements, $53,000 for utility improvements, $29,900 in administrative costs and $31,000 in interest.

If the project goes through in Lyle, the city would have the capabilities in utilities and road infrastructure for more businesses and expand the site into an industrial park.

While county officials did not know what benefits St. Ansgar is offering Agri-Steel, county board chairman Jerry Reinartz said St. Ansgar already has an industrial park where such utilities would be available.

If the plan moves forward, the city of Lyle could either bond for the money or receive a loan from the county. The county has previously given other loans to cities — like one to Dexter to help the city build a water tower — and commissioners seemed to favor the option.

“You want to help them when you can,” Reinartz said.

County coordinator Oscarson described such loans to the cities as guaranteed investments, as it’s almost certain the city will pay back the loan.

Agri-Steel would pay full taxes like other businesses, but the company wouldn’t have to pay for site improvements and utilities.

Oscarson described the move as a temporary tax shift.

It’s not clear if Lyle’s offer is enough to keep the company in town, but officials believe the owners would opt to build in Iowa without such incentives.

The Lyle City Council will host the Tax Increment Financing hearing at 7 p.m. May 22.

For the most part, county officials described incentives as a way of keeping jobs in the county and in Lyle. Furthermore, the project could add local jobs.

“Mainly it’s a job retention — possible job creation,” Oscarson said.