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Bradford Built Drops Abilene Expansion Plans


Four members of the Washington County Business Owner’s Association met with the Board of County Commissioners on Monday to discuss plans to help with the expansion of BradfordBuilt in the Washington industrial park (see related story). The group was not on the agenda for the day but requested some time during the fully scheduled morning.

Derek Bruna, who is an officer with the business owner’s association, began by saying the group was at the meeting to represent Bradford Built, who was a client of the economic development association.

“Our group has been working behind the scenes… to see if there was anything we could do to court [Bradford Built] back [to Washington]” Bruna said.

The newly formed economic development group is still finalizing its own paperwork and bylaws, but has taken on Bradford Built as a client after his planned expansion at Abilene recently fell through, Bruna said.

Bradford Built owner Brad Portenier told the Washington County News this spring that he planned to move the expansion of his flatbed truck business to Abilene because of their business incentives.

Portenier did not attend Monday’s meeting, and the economic development group requested from appraiser Lance Leis that all communications in regard to the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan go through them and not Portenier.

Mark Uhlik, who is also a member of the economic development group, told commissioners that Portenier wants to construct another facility for his truck bed business east of the current location. Uhlik said Portenier wants to break ground by Sept. 1, and the new facility would employ 20 to 40 new employees, or more.

Uhlik said he didn’t think Portenier wanted to pursue Industrial Revenue Bonds for this project, which he pursued in Dickinson County.

Bruna said the new economic development group wants to be different than most other eco devo groups, and one of their incentives for businesses would be to pay bonuses for new employees added each year. He said Bradford Built may be a part of that new program, although no official details of that program have been established yet because the group is so new.


Bruna told the commissioners that the economic development group worked with Portenier to fill out paperwork for the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.

“You guys filled out his paperwork?” commissioner Tim Mueller asked.

“We worked with him to fill it out,” Bruna said.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Plan is a five-year tax rebate program that provides a 100 percent property tax rebate the first year, 80 percent the second year, 60 percent the third year, 40 percent the fourth year and 20 percent the fifth year.

The economic development group presented the NRP paperwork and application fee Monday and asked how long the approval process would take.

The commissioners brought in appraiser Lance Leis to explain the process.

Leis said he would review the application and verify information including that there are no delinquent taxes on the property. He would then schedule an onsite visit to verify that no construction has yet begun. The whole process would take about a week.

The group was told that construction could start as soon as the inspection was completed.

Leis told the group that some applicants end up being kicked out of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program because they fail to turn in paperwork. He said the appraiser’s office should be notified when construction begins and when it is completed, and construction costs need to be provided when construction is complete.

Members of the economic development group said several times that they would make sure all necessary deadlines were met.

Members of the group said they want to help businesses meet their needs, and the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan meets Portenier’s tax needs. Their next task was to go to the City of Washington to look into some of Portenier’s other needs, they said.


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