Canada firm DBG to open in Con­way

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - DEBRA HALE-SHEL­TON

CON­WAY — State and lo­cal mon­e­tary in­cen­tives to­tal­ing mil­lions of dol­lars helped per­suade Cana­dian-based com­pany DBG to open its U.S. head­quar­ters and op­er­a­tions in Con­way.

DBG an­nounced Wed­nes­day that it has ac­quired IC Corp.’s plant on Dave Ward Drive. Un­til now, the plant has been the home of Nav­is­tar sub­sidiary IC Corp., for­merly Ward Trans­porta­tion Ser­vices, and has made school-bus parts.

The 41-year-old DBG, with more than 650 em­ploy­ees, pre­vi­ously had op­er­a­tions only in Canada and Mex­ico. The com­pany sup­plies the heavy truck, au­to­mo­tive, agri­cul­tural and com­mer­cial in­dus­tries with cus­tom metal parts.

The 200 em­ploy­ees al­ready at the Con­way plant will join the DBG pay­roll, and the plant will con­tinue to pro­vide parts to Illi­nois-based Nav­is­tar.

“Con­way’s al­most 100-year his­tory with the bus and heavy truck mar­ket is as old as mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ing it­self,” Con­way Mayor Bart Castle­berry said in a news re­lease. “The fact that a grow­ing com­pany like DBG rec­og­nizes and in­vests in our man­u­fac­tur­ing fu­ture is an honor.”

The com­pany of­fered no spe­cific num­bers on em­ploy­ment goals and did not re­spond to emailed ques­tions by Wed­nes­day evening.

But Pe­ter Chap­man, a for­mer IC Corp em­ployee who lives in Con­way and is gen­eral man­ager of DBG Con­way, said in the news re­lease that DBG “has ag­gres­sive plans to dou­ble its business over the next [five] years.”

“This will re­quire sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment in fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment while in turn cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties that are less re­liant on the sea­son­al­ity of the bus mar­ket,” Chap­man said.

Brad Lacy, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Con­way Area Cham­ber of Com­merce and Con­way De­vel­op­ment Corp., said Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment fol­lows a year­long process of talks with DBG, which stands for The De Bi­asi Group.

DBG Pres­i­dent and CEO Mike De Bi­asi said the com­pany has looked for a place to lo­cate its U.S. op­er­a­tions “for many years.”

De Bi­asi called Con­way “a grow­ing com­mu­nity” that of­fers “a strong ex­pe­ri­enced work­force.” He said the Con­way plant also will help the com­pany di­ver­sify its prod­uct of­fer­ings.

The Con­way City Coun­cil ear­lier this week ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion ex­press­ing its in­ten­tion to issue up to $5.2 mil­lion in in­dus­trial rev­enue bonds to help DBG with the pur­chase, ren­o­va­tion and equip­ment of the plant.

The state in­cen­tive pack­age in­cludes up to $650,000 from the quick action clos­ing fund, Arkansas Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion spokesman Jeff Moore said Wed­nes­day.

Com­mis­sion spokesman Lisa Cog­bill said those funds must be used for per­ma­nent im­prove­ments of the fa­cil­ity.

“The com­pany will be re­quired to sub­mit sup­port doc­u­men­ta­tion af­ter the im­prove­ments are made be­fore [it] can be re­im­bursed,” Cog­bill said in an email.

DBG also has qual­i­fied for two years of what the state calls “cre­ate re­bate” ben­e­fits, Moore said.

“In or­der to qual­ify, the com­pany must cre­ate a min­i­mum of $2 mil­lion an­nu­ally in new pay­roll,” Moore said in an email. “The min­i­mum pay­roll must be met within 24 months of the ef­fec­tive date of the fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive agree­ment. No ben­e­fits may be claimed un­til the $2 mil­lion an­nual pay­roll thresh­old is met.”

The ben­e­fits are avail­able af­ter ver­i­fi­ca­tion that the business has met min­i­mum pay­roll re­quire­ments. The per­cent­age of the ben­e­fits in this case will be 3.9 per­cent of new pay­roll, Moore said. The 200 em­ploy­ees al­ready at the fa­cil­ity will count to­ward the min­i­mum $2 mil­lion pay­roll, Cog­bill said.

The city’s in­cen­tive is aimed at re­duc­ing DBG’s prop­erty taxes and will not cost the city any money, said Lit­tle Rock at­tor­ney Gor­don Wil­bourn, who ad­vises Con­way on bond-re­lated mat­ters.

Wil­bourn has said that for prop­erty taxes to be abated un­der Arkansas law, the prop­erty must be owned by a gov­ern­ment en­tity. In cases such as this one, he said, the prop­erty gets trans­ferred to the city and is then leased back to the business. At the end of the bond term, 20 years for ex­am­ple, the com­pany buys the prop­erty back for a nom­i­nal amount such as $100, he said.

“Ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs play an in­te­gral part in our state’s econ­omy,” said Mike Pre­ston, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Arkansas Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion.

“I ap­plaud DBG’s de­ci­sion to in­vest in Con­way and keep 200 valu­able em­ploy­ees work­ing here as the com­pany ex­plores ad­di­tional growth op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Lacy said DBG “has been rec­og­nized as one of Canada’s best man­aged pri­vate com­pa­nies and one of the best to work for.”

“Our team has seen first­hand how thought­ful and growth-ori­ented they are,” he added.

“Con­way’s al­most 100-year his­tory with the bus and heavy truck mar­ket is as old as mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ing it­self. The fact that a grow­ing com­pany like DBG rec­og­nizes and in­vests in our man­u­fac­tur­ing fu­ture is an honor.” — Con­way Mayor Bart Castle­berry

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