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Thu May 17, 2012
Business

Incentives Couldn’t Keep Eldon James from Moving

One of Northern Colorado’s better-known companies has announced plans to leave the area by the end of the year. Despite multiple efforts to keep Eldon James from moving, the loss is being viewed as a black eye to economic-development efforts in the region.

KUNC’s Brian Larson spoke with Northern Colorado Business Report publisher Jeff Nuttall for more.

Larson: For those who don’t know, Eldon James manufactures and sells tubing and fittings to medical device companies and others worldwide. While they’re not a big company, they have been around for decades. And now Jeff they are moving to the Stapleton development – despite numerous incentives to stay.

Nuttall: The city of Loveland – where Eldon James is located – was the first to get in the game when the company started looking for a place to expand its headquarters. That was back in mid-2010.

Larson: Now at the time it seemed like Eldon James was going to stay in Loveland because they bought more than 120 acres of land right next door to their current location.

Nuttall: And the city of Loveland got to work on incentive possibilities for the company. In Loveland, those incentives can range anywhere from straight cash to waivers of certain fees. They’re typically tied to a guarantee from the business related to job creation or, in some cases, property or sales tax increases. But the CEO of the Eldon James, Marcia Coulson, told us they had invested $70,000 investigating possibilities for the land before realizing it would not be able to build what it wanted on the parcel.

Larson: Who was the next suitor when Loveland wasn’t going to be an option?

Nuttall: That would be Fort Collins. City Economic Health Advisor Josh Birks pulled says they pulled out all the stops in hopes that the company might move into a building near the intersection of Timberline and Harmony Roads. Birks said the city had a plan to get Eldon James into the building by last summer. No formal proposal was ever crafted, but Birks had initial approval to carve out an Urban Renewal Area. And that would have been big. Businesses that locate in URAs are eligible for tax increment financing. But, after seven months of discussions with the owner of the Harmony property, an agreement could not be reached.

Larson: And that is when Timnath – which is southeast of Fort Collins came into play?

Nuttall: Precisely. Last December, Eldon James announced it would build a 75,000-square-foot building in Timnath worth $12 million, with no incentives from the town. The scheduled March 1 groundbreaking came and went, and in April, Eldon James officials surprised everyone by calling off the Timnath plans. CEO Marcia Coulson pointed to time constraints as the reason. She told our reporter that a customer with whom the company had been working with for two years told Eldon James that it couldn’t wait for the new headquarters to be built, so Eldon James would have to rethink its plan and find an existing building instead.

Larson: I find a bit hard to believe with so much real estate on the market that no such building could be found in Northern Colorado?

Nuttall: Well apparently they couldn’t find one. The company wanted a well-kept building with curb appeal, and despite months of searching, Coulson could find nothing in Northern Colorado that both suited the needs of the company and projected the right image. So, Coulson started looking south. By the end of this year, Eldon James will have moved its headquarters to a 74,000-square-foot building in the Northfield Stapleton development. The 5-year-old building is well kept, according to Coulson, and will be retrofitted with an 11,000-square-foot clean room, which will be complete within 90 days. And like Timnath, Stapleton offered not a single dollar of incentives.

Larson: Jeff is the publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report.

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