ST. GEORGE – A new manufacturing facility and more than $11.2 million in first-year economic impact are the fruits of negotiations between the Industrial Brush Corporation and local officials to bring the California-based business to Southern Utah, via an incentive deal rich with benefits.
A leader in the heavy-duty brush industry, IBC currently makes its brushes in a 70,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Pomona, Calif. and another 45,000-square-foot facility in Lakeland, Fla. Products are shipped worldwide.
“The Industrial Brush Corporation is a primary industry, meaning they manufacture items and sell them almost entirely outside Washington County,” said Scott Hirschi, director of Site Select Plus (formerly the Washington County Economic Development Council).
“Value-added companies like IBC expand the local economy by pulling dollars from outside the area into our community,” Hirschi said, “and thereby expand the economic base for the area.”
From California to Utah
IBC is building a 52,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Fort Pierce Industrial Park, near the intersection of Commerce Drive and Venture Drive in St. George. It will serve as a replacement for the company’s main manufacturing plant in California, bringing 80 percent of its employees, which amounts to about 20 workers, with it. The facility is expected to be operational by the end of July.
The company’s president, John Cottam, purchased a home in St. George in the spring of 2012 and started exploring the possibility of expanding into the area. After plans to take over an existing facility fell through, he decided to purchase vacant land and construct a building customized to IBC’s needs.
After more than 65 years in business, IBC must make some changes to stay profitable, Cottam said.
“We’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the business environment in California, and the overall costs of operating a business and living expenses for our employees,” Cottam said. “We were looking for a place that had a favorable business climate, and more reasonable taxation and regulation requirements.”
“They really felt like this was the place to be,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.
IBC is relocating numerous workers, Cottam said, because loyalty is a company policy; employees stay with the business an average of 25 years. Thus, finding an area with a reliable workforce was an important factor in his decision.
“St. George has a reputation for workers that are very responsible and dependable, with a strong work ethic,” Cottam said. “Many of our current employees will be retiring in the next several years, and we wanted to be in a place where we could replace them with good people.”
The anticipated benefits to the St. George area of IBC’s first year in business are around $4 million for the purchase of the property and construction of the facility, a capital investment of approximately $6 million and an estimated $1.2 million in purchases of supplies and services from existing local businesses.
Additionally, the new facility is expected to create approximately 25 high-skilled jobs, at least five of them upon opening, with an average annual wage of $50,000.
For moving to St. George, IBC was offered a local incentive package that will be funded by a portion of new property taxes the company pays.
“The term ‘new’ means any increase in property tax created by the construction of the new facility. That way, there is no loss of revenue to local government from the existing tax base,” Hirschi said. “Local incentives are designed to use only the increase in property taxes paid by the company, not any existing funding or taxes from other companies or citizens.”
The deal is a post-performance incentive, meaning that no financial recompense is available until IBC completes certain requirements. Details are still being worked out.
“We’re looking forward to establishing ourselves in Utah and another 50-100 years of doing business here,” Cottam said.
IBC has been a leader in the industrial brush business since 1947. The company makes brushes for hundreds of industrial applications, among them mechanized cotton harvesting, automated glass washing, wood and metal finishing, high-speed printing presses, printed circuit board production and the aerospace industry.
“Almost all our brushes are power-driven and are used to sweep, wipe, seal, transfer, meter, cushion, contain, scrub, spread, convey, sort, clean, wash, dry, wax, polish, peel, harvest, package, guide or glue a myriad of different products,” Cottam said. “Brushes by themselves are rather mundane products, but they are used in virtually every industry that either manufactures or processes anything in large quantities. The clean, shiny produce in your supermarket was (probably) washed, dried and waxed by IBC brushes.”
“This brings a different kind of industry to our area,” Pike said.
IBC Website: Industrial Brush Corporation
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