Council approves Argos incentives

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 04:34 PM

On a 6-0 vote, the City Council agreed this week to raise to $924,676 its business-incentive offer to a Durham-based pharmaceutical company that’s developing treatments for kidney cancer, HIV and lupus.

The pledge to Argos Therapeutics nearly matches a county offer of $925,000, all in hopes of convincing the company to place a new headquarters, research lab and manufacturing plant here.
The state is also expected to put money into the deal, officials said
Argos President and CEO Jeff Abbey said the company either has or plans to turn down competing incentives offers for sites in Mebane, Texas, Florida and Quebec.
The company’s existing Durham workforce is “trained and important to our success,” Abbey said, adding that the rejected offers all promised Argos more money.
From the local-government end, the deal as usual amounts to a give-back of some of the increased property tax city and county officials expect to receive because of the new building.
The city will pay over seven years, the county five.
Both governments expect to receive about $1.2 million over their respective payback periods, according to a spreadsheet from the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
The figure assumes no change in the local tax burden over the life of the incentives – a scenario unlikely to play out in real life, as the tax burden tends to rise in parallel with the inflation rate.
Durham County tax assessors also will revise their estimates of the value of area property during the life of the deal, which will affect the relative tax burden of homes, neighborhoods and commercial holdings.
Councilman Steve Schewel noted that the city’s offer amounts to giving back to Argos about three-quarters of the added revenue it expects in the coming seven years.
Office of Economic and Workforce Development Director Kevin Dick agreed, but said the offer is “within guidelines” the council has established for incentive deals.
Both the city and county initially agreed to put about $600,000 into the incentive package. They raised their offers when Argos proposed building a bigger facility than it initially wanted.