FARGO — The City of Fargo Commission approved five-year tax relief for major expansion projects at longtime Fargo businesses Weather Modification Inc. and Amity Technology on Tuesday, May 31.
Weather Modification plans to build a 112,000 square foot, $22 million addition with a hangar, offices, warehouse and room to work on equipment.
The company, which now operates out of 230,000 square feet of space at Hector International Airport (3802 20th St. N.), modifies aircraft for a variety of uses, including cloud seeding, measurement cloud physics, environmental monitoring and air ambulances.
The tax exemption amount is $325,611 per year, or approximately $1,628,055 in total. The commission approved the tax relief by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Tony Gehrig voting against.
The company has 54 employees. It estimates it will create eight new jobs in the first year of its expansion, paying an average of $61,000 per year. By the fifth year of the expanded operation, WMI estimates it will have grown to 80 employees, according to documents filed with the city.
Annual revenue, which currently stands at $8.2 million, is expected to grow to $10.5 million in the fifth year of expanded operations.
The company’s CEO and co-founder, Pat Sweeney, called the planes his company leases, sells and upgrades for countries and businesses around the world “flying labs.”
“We’re doing great things,” Sweeney told the commission.
Ryan Aasheim, director of business development for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, said WMI is economically diversifying a region not known for having a robust aerospace industry. He also noted that the company had paid about $3.5 million in property taxes over the past 20 years.
Amity Technology, 2800 7th Ave. N., is looking to purchase a nearby building to expand its manufacturing capabilities. The building and land will cost $2,263,500, with machinery and equipment expected to add another $1 million to the bill.
The tax exemption would be $27,728 per year, or $138,644 over five years.
The company, which specializes in building harvesters for growing sugar beets, wants to develop a new product line – a “crop chaser” for transporting corn silage and other crops. In addition to expanding the space to build the large machines (nearly $1 million each), they also plan to install a powder coating line so they no longer have to outsource the painting of equipment. .
Annual revenue is expected to rise from $3 million for the expansion in year one to $9 million in year five, according to city documents.
Amity now has 67 employees. In two years, the company expects to create 10 jobs for wages and benefits of about $28 an hour. The company estimated that it could potentially have 85 employees in the fifth year of using the expansion.
“This new product really has a chance to grow,” co-founder Brian Dahl told the Commission. “As a Fargo taxpayer, I think that’s a pretty good bet.”
The Commission also approved this request by a vote of 4 to 1. Gehrig was the only no.