Billy Goat Industries Inc., a family-owned business that has operated in Lee’s Summit more than four decades, is relocating to Lone Jack.
The company, at 1803 S.W. Jefferson St., has about 100 employees and builds professional-grade mowers and other equipment for turf and property maintenance.
Its plant is in a series of buildings added over time that aren’t able to work efficiently, Billy Goat’s president told the Lee’s Summit City Council earlier this year.
The city staff had been negotiating with the company on tax incentives to retain an upgraded plant. At a Dec. 4 meeting, City Council members made plans to discuss an offer further at a work session this week in a last-moment gambit to stop the city from losing the manufacturer and its 100 jobs.
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Earlier that day, Billy Goat president Will Coates and Lone Jack Mayor Ken Krawchuk signed a nonbinding memorandum on a package of incentives for building a 125,000-square-foot manufacturing/distributing plant in that town, southeast of U.S. 50 and Hutt Road.
Lee’s Summit Councilman David Mosby, chairman of the Community and Economic Development Committee, said last week he had heard that the decision was imminent and had asked Coates for a delay. He and Councilman Derek Holland were to meet with Coates on Saturday to get information for the council, but that meeting was canceled.
The relocation also involves a significant investment in new manufacturing equipment that could have been in Lee's Summit. Coates said Wednesday.
Lee's Summit’s staff focused on making an attractive incentive package that went through several versions, but Lone Jack’s offer would result in better tax abatements by about $1 million, which he couldn’t ignore.
"We needed to make the right decision for our employees and shareholders for the next 40 years," Coates said.
The setback comes as Lee’s Summit has been trying to ramp up its economic development programs to stem projected general fund deficits in the near term and create a stable community in the future.
Coates’ agreement with Lone Jack calls for Billy Goat to build the $8 million facility and purchase about $1.5 million in new equipment through what’s known as a Chapter 100 lease. The new facility is expected to be running in the summer of 2016.