LITTLE ROCK PORT: To be home to Czech gunmaker.

A Czech firearms maker announced plans today to build a factory at the Little Rock Port that is expected to employ 565 people in six years.

An Arkansas Economic Development Commission news release said CZ-USA, a subsidiary of Česká zbrojovka a.s. Uherský Brod (CZUB), will make Little Rock its headquarters and invest $90 million in the plant.

It will use 73 acres at the port to produce firearms for defense, shooting competition and sport shooting.

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The AEDC quoted Bogdan Heczko, chairman of the CZ-USA board, as saying Arkansas was chosen in a multi-state search for its “workforce, culture, business climate and industry support.”

Construction is to begin immediately with initial startup in March 2020 and phased-in production. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Mayor Frank Scott Jr. and Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde all cheered the news, said to be the biggest industrial announcement in Little Rock in a decade.

The company is taking job applications here.

I’ve asked for information about development incentives offered to the company and also terms on the port land. The port has expanded with the help of infusions of Little Rock sales tax proceeds.

UPDATE: Bryan Day, port director, provided details on the port land. It’s being given to the company.

The Little Rock Port Authority will provide the 73 acres to CZ. This will ultimately require approval by the LR Port’s Board of Directors and the City of Little Board of Directors. In return for the land, the state will provide infrastructure improvements made to the road and utilities which will help the Port continue our growth. We are excited to welcome CZ to the Port. I’m proud that my board has been visionary in acquiring land and these new jobs are in keeping with our mission of growing jobs.

Land prices vary at the port, but it recently bought 75 acres of farmland from the Quapaw tribe for $1.7 million. This particular land was acquired in 2009 for $14,000 an acre, or a little more than $1 million.

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UPDATE: Here”s the breakdown from AEDC on state incentives, more than $20 million in loans and grants plus potential rebates based on future payroll and sales tax refunds:

AEDC Incentives for CZ-USA

Phase 1 – 357 jobs – $60M CZ-USA capital investment
• $11M loan
• $4M infrastructure grant
• $1.25M training assistance
• Create Rebate (performance based rebate based on payroll)
• Tax Back (partial sales tax refund on eligible expenditures)

Phase 2 – 208 jobs – $30M CZ-USA capital investment
• $7M loan
• $750K training assistance
• Create Rebate (performance based rebate based on payroll)
• Tax Back (partial sales tax refund on eligible expenditures)

CREATE REBATE (CASH REBATE)
Create Rebate provides annual cash payments based on a company’s annual payroll for new, full-time, permanent employees. In order to qualify, the company must create a minimum of $2 million annually in new payroll. 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.

Create Rebate benefits are available after the business certifies to the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration that it has fulfilled the minimum payroll requirements and the reported payroll has been verified. The percentage of the benefit depends on the tier assignment of the county where the job creation occurs.

INFRASTRUCTURE GRANTS
AEDC shares the cost of project infrastructure needs by committing grants from state and federal infrastructure funds. The amount of assistance committed is dependent upon the strength of the company, of jobs, average wage, project investment and costs associated with facility/site improvements.

TAX BACK (SALES AND USE TAX REFUND)
The Tax Back program provides sales and use tax refunds on the purchase of building materials and taxable machinery and equipment to qualified businesses investing at least $100,000 and who either a) sign a job creation agreement under the Advantage Arkansas or Create Rebate programs within 24 months of signing the Tax Back agreement or b) have signed an Advantage Arkansas or Create Rebate agreement within the previous 48 months.

Applicants for Tax Back must also obtain an endorsement resolution from a local governing authority authorizing the refund of its local taxes. Applicants must meet the qualification criteria under the requisite Advantage Arkansas or Create Rebate program in which they are participating and must be approved by AEDC.

The refund of sales and use taxes shall not include the refund of taxes dedicated to the Educational Adequacy Fund provided in §19-5-1227 or the taxes dedicated to the Conservation Tax Fund provided in §19-6-484; which totals 1%. The state tax rate is 6.5%, so the eligible refund would be 5.5%.