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TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2007
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Poultry firm considering Athens as site for world headquarters

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ATHENS — A poultry company that operates a feed processing facility in Athens is considering the city as the site of its new world headquarters, Athens City Council President Harold Wales said Monday.

Aviagen Inc., is seeking tax abatements on a $4.2 million expansion at its Athens facility. Wales said he met with company officials who also are interested in moving their headquarters, now in Huntsville, to Athens.

"They need more room," Wales said. "They're just talking about this right now."

Wales said he spoke to officials about the area along the Interstate 65 interchange under construction on Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road in Tanner, and at sites in the city's Elm Industrial Park.

Alcohol sales

Wales said officials are concerned about the Aug. 14 vote on Athens making alcohol sales illegal.

"They entertain folks from across the world who want to stay in nice hotels, eat in nice restaurants and have a drink," Wales said.

"That's why they are watching that."

The council discussed Monday whether to approve the $99,225 one-time sales tax abatement and a $18,481 per year for 10 years property tax abatement on the expansion. The company wants to add feed manufacturing equipment and hire four people over the next three years.

Members hesitant

Council members Milly Caudle, Johnny Crutcher and Jimmy Gill said they are hesitant to make such abatements for four jobs.

"I think we should have a limit, like adding 50 jobs, and not minimum-wage-type jobs," Gill said. "Not hamburger-flipping jobs."

The council introduced a resolution to approve the abatements but will not vote on the resolution until its July 30 meeting.

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