MillerCoors seeks tax break for machinery upgrades in Fort Worth

MillerCoors is looking to make at least $22.5 million in capital improvements at its brewery off Interstate 35W in south Fort Worth this year and is asking the city for economic help.

The company is seeking a 10-year tax abatement on 50 percent of the incremental business personal property taxes that could bring a $2.7 million incentive if the investment grows to $71.5 million in the next three years.

Robert Sturns, with the city’s Housing and Economic Development Department and director of the city’s Business Assistance Center, told the City Council on Tuesday that MillerCoors is upgrading equipment and machinery at its 1-million-square-foot facility to make it more efficient and competitive.

“This is a very competitive time for the brewery industry,” Sturns said. “MillerCoors is looking to make this investment to ensure that they remain competitive in the near term and the future as well.”

MillerCoors would receive a $735,000 incentive over the next 10 years if it invests $22.5 million by Dec. 31. But the company could receive up to $2.7 million if it invests an additional $24.5 million by Dec. 31, 2015, and an additional $24.5 million by Dec. 31, 2016. If completed, the three phases would total $71.5 million in plant improvements.

“The potential for additional new investment at the local plant could result in increased jobs over the years if they are able to see the Phase Two and Phase Three investments,” Sturns said.

Some of those improvements include a new package automation system, a new grain-handling system and other enhancements to its packaging lines, Sturns said.

Under the deal, MillerCoors must retain at least 555 employees at the plant. At least 35 percent of the expansion costs must be spent with Fort Worth companies and at least 25 percent with Fort Worth minority- and women-owned businesses. There are also annual spending percentages with Fort Worth companies on supply and service costs.

The council will vote on the incentive March 25, but some council members signaled their support at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s certainly great to see well-established, longtime Fort Worth companies augmenting their business picture to be competitive in the market,” Councilman Dennis Shingleton said. “We just couldn’t ask for more than this.”