Council Report: Ben E. Keith expansion approved as enterprise project

Fort Worth City Hall 

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Fort Worth City Council authorized execution of an interlocal agreement with Tarrant County to approve Ben E. Keith Company as an enterprise project.

The Texas Enterprise Zone Program is an economic development tool for local communities to partner with the State of Texas to promote job creation and capital investment in economically distressed areas. Designated projects are eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures, including building materials, machinery and equipment, electricity, gas and tangible property purchased and consumed in the normal course of business, and taxable services.

The nominating county must enter into an interlocal agreement with the municipality that has jurisdiction of the territory in which the nominated project or activity will be located.

The company’s expansion, located at 7650 Will Rogers Boulevard in Carter Industrial Park, qualifies for a single enterprise project designation with a projected capital investment of $11 million toward the installation of new equipment and business personal property. In February, the city council authorized nomination of the property by the City of Fort Worth as an enterprise project. However, that nomination was specific to improvements to real property and not to the investment in equipment proposed as part of the recent nomination by the County.

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Fort Worth Director of Economic Development Robert Sturns said the investment by Ben E. Keith “will bring added tax value to the city without providing an abatement.”

Having been named an enterprise project, Ben E Keith will be eligible to apply for state sales and use tax refunds on qualified expenditures. A single project designation allows for a state sales and use tax refund on qualified expenditures of $2,500 per job, for up to 500 jobs, with a maximum benefit of $1.25 million over a five-year period. Under the Texas Enterprise Zone Act, at least 25% of the business’ new or retained employees will be residents of the enterprise zone, economically disadvantaged individuals or veterans.

In addition, the jobs will be provided through the end of the designation period, or at least three years after the date on which a state benefit is received, whichever is later.

These state benefits have no fiscal impact on the city’s general fund.

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“Ben E. Keith is a great employer. It’s been a super relationship,” District 7 Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Shingleton said.