A utility vehicle and mower manufacturer in Batesville announced on Monday it plans to add 400 employees to its operation.
Over $12-million will be poured into an expansion of Intimidator Incorporated’s existing facility in Batesville and the construction of an entirely new plant nearby in the Independence County Industrial Park. 400 jobs are expected to be created over a four year period.
The Batesville-based company, owned by Robert and Becky Foster, won’t be doing it alone. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission says the company is getting a cash rebate on some payroll taxes for five years, sales tax exemptions on building materials and equipment for the manufacturing facility, and $1.5 million in Community Development Block Grant funds. The Fosters own several other related businesses in addition to Intimidator altogether employing 111 people.
AEDC Director Mike Preston says it's difficult to know what Intimidator Inc. would have chosen to do without state support but he believes the commission's role was an important factor in the decision to, and scale of, expansion.
"It's hard to say, would it have been able to make this expansion? Maybe not, perhaps they would not have been able to do it or perhaps they would not have been able to do it to the tune of 400 jobs," says Preston. "It's tough to say but I know we saw a need and we saw a deficiency where we could certainly help."
Preston says state economic development officials and Governor Asa Hutchinson have been working together on the expansion for a number of months.
"The governor met with them very early on as the Foster's were developing some of the new concepts in their building," says Preston. "We got involved shortly thereafter to see the plans and where they were going. It's taken some time to come together but today was a culmination of months of hard work with everyone in Batesville and the team at AEDC to get the incentives in place that they needed to make this jobs announcement."
Governor Asa Hutchinson was among half a dozen state and local leaders at the announcement in Batesville. A news release from AEDC quotes the Republican governor.
“The fact that intimidator is creating 400 new jobs reflectes the company’s rapid growth in the utility vehicle market. They have combined innovative products and ideas with workforce that is second to none…Thanks to the Intimidator’s leadership for continuing to invest in Arkansas.”
Mayor Rick Elumbaugh praised the company for choosing to stay rooted in Batesville as it expands, “[we] stand ready to assist them in any way we can.”
Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Crystal Johnson alluded to local support supplementing state-level financial perks for Intimidator Inc.
“The Foster Family is yet another example of how important the entrepreneurial spirit is to Arkansas. Their expansion to the Independence County business park was a result of collaboration between the City of Batesville and Independence County.”
The city hold’s the fortune of another economic announcement on Tuesday, with another mower company. Bad Boy Mowers is expected to detail its entry into the Australian market at a press conference at the state Capitol.
Preston says the state works hard to make sure that every company receives support when appropriate even if they're competing mower businesses in the same city like Intimidator Inc. and Bad Boy Mowers. Last year Bad Boy Mowers worked with AEDC for an expansion of its own.
"If we can see growth in both companies we certainly want to do it," says Preston. "We're really blessed to have two great companies in our state and the growth models they've had over the last few years are just unprecedented. We're happy to help both of them as they continue to grow."