New Albany City Council votes to give $7M to keep Pillsbury plan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New Albany City Council votes to give $7M to keep Pillsbury plant open

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Standing room only in New Albany as city council set to discuss $7M to entice General Mills to stay. (Photo by Ryan Cummings) Standing room only in New Albany as city council set to discuss $7M to entice General Mills to stay. (Photo by Ryan Cummings)
The overflow of people who want Pillsbury to stay in New Albany. Most are employees. The meeting room had a capacity of 130. (Photo by Ryan Cummings) The overflow of people who want Pillsbury to stay in New Albany. Most are employees. The meeting room had a capacity of 130. (Photo by Ryan Cummings)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- New Albany is coming up with seven million reasons to keep the Pillsbury plant open.

It was standing room only Monday night as New Albany leaders set out to save the Pillsbury Plant -- the city's 5th largest employer.

New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan called the special meeting to remind General Mills why it chose the city 55 years ago.

Council members voted 5-to-2 to give a $7 million incentive to General Mills to stay in town.

“This is just a resolution to get the ball going," Councilwoman Shirley Baird said.

She said the city doesn't have all the figures yet, but it has to do something.

“Because if we had voted this down those people would be gone, their job would be gone, and it's just too important, you have 400 people working," she said. “We still have the opportunity to send a message to the folks at General Mills that they are important to us, they're a $19 billion dollar corporation."

She said the plant's workers give back to the economy, even if they don't live in New Albany.

“They go to nail shops, they go to Great Escape, they eat Comfy Cow, they go to The Exchange, Louis Le Francais and they support southern Indiana."

According to city records Pillsbury pays about $661,000 a year in local property taxes and $340,000 in sewer utilities.

General Mills recently announced it could close the New Albany plant after 55 years. City leaders say it means too much to the community, and losing hundreds of jobs would be devastating.

Councilman Kevin Zurschmiede said at the meeting that the city may forgo some projects so they can find money to keep the Pillsbury plant. "It's too important," he said.

"It's extremely important, extremely important," said Dan Coffee, a councilman. "But I think we have to be very careful in how we spend the taxpayers' money."

"I'd like to see Pillsbury come and sit at the table," Coffee said. "No one has seen anybody from General Mills at this point in time."

The incentive package includes $7 million in bonds. That money has to be used to modernize the current plant and pay for new equipment.

To get the money, the plant has to stay in business for at least five years.

New Albany will also offer several tax incentives on new construction and warehouse improvement.

“It's our job as a community, I think, to support them, and I do believe that the other municipalities will step in and help us out -- Clarksville, Jeffersonville, other areas, Georgetown," Baird said.

General Mills officials have released a statement, saying: “We appreciate the efforts of the mayor and the community. We will of course carefully consider any communication from the city.”

This is just the first step in the process. It still has to go to the redevelopment commission to work out all the details before the city contacts General Mills.

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