Southern Nevada is in the running to be the home of an expanding credit card debt-collection company that could eventually provide 2,000 jobs in a call-center environment.
Tulsa, Okla.-based CFS II won unanimous approval Tuesday from the Nevada Commission on Economic Development for $538,106 in sales and business tax abatements in addition to $33,600 in sales tax deferrals.
Approval of the incentive package puts Nevada one step closer to being selected for the site of a 40,000-square-foot facility with 500 employees and plans to expand to 200,000 square feet and 2,000 jobs in three to five years.
Bill Bartmann, president and CEO of CFS II, said Nevada is in the running against sites in North Carolina and Illinois.
The commission’s approval of the incentive package was a departure from traditional requests in which a company has a firm commitment to locate in the state.
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, who chairs the commission, sought an opinion from the attorney general’s office on whether the board could approve incentives to a company without a firm commitment to the state. The AG’s office said it was permissible.
Bartmann said the incentives would be “helpful” in his company’s decision on whether to locate in the state, which he said would be a purely economic decision.
Bartmann said the decision would be made by the end of March, and the facility would be operational in the second quarter.
The company acquires charged-off credit-card debt at greatly discounted rates from banks and lending institutions and renegotiates payments under new terms with the borrowers.
Once listed as one of the 25 richest people in the United States, Bartmann developed a reputation for providing offbeat benefits to his employees. When his staff beat performance goals, he flew them to Las Vegas where he wrestled Hulk Hogan at the Thomas & Mack Center — and won.
He also chartered 27 Boeing 747 jumbo jets to fly employees and their families to Walt Disney World for a weekend.
But commissioners were most impressed with some of the benefits Bartmann extends to his workers — free health care, a 250 percent match on the company’s 401(k) retirement program and free on-site child care.
In Oklahoma, CFS II is major supporter of Junior Achievement and Salvation Army charitable activities and in one year funded $750,000 in college scholarships.
CFS II qualified for tax incentives meeting three statutory requirements, job creation, average wage and capital investment.
The company’s application said it would pay $19.87 an hour on average, 2 percent more than the requirement, and invest $1.7 million, 68 percent more than required. The 500 jobs created is more than five times the statutory requirement. CFS II needed only two of the three requirements to qualify for tax breaks.
State officials estimated that sales tax, abated to 2 percent for a year, would cost the state $102,480 and the modified business tax, abated by 50 percent for four years, would result in $435,626 less going to the state. The company also would get a 60-month deferral on sales tax payments.
The state’s analysis of the benefit to the state is that it would create $11.4 million in new taxes and an economic impact of $666.4 million over 10 years. That’s $1,238 per abated dollar.
In other business, the commission approved federal training grants for two companies expanding to Southern Nevada.
Commissioners approved a $60,000 grant to Smile Foods Inc. to train 38 employees at a new specialized food manufacturing plant in Las Vegas or Henderson.
Ina Agwada, president and CEO of Smile Foods, is developing a manufacturing plant to produce foods free of glutens, wheat and allergens and for lactose-intolerant customers.
Agwada said the company is dedicated to the growing food-intolerance products market and using sustainable agriculture that saves billions of gallons of water a year, keeps soil healthy and avoids the use of pesticides and harmful chemicals.
Smile Foods qualified for the grant, administered by the state, creating 280 percent more jobs than required by statute and providing an average wage of $19.07 an hour, 22 percent above the industry average.
Commissioners also approved a $20,000 training grant for Plantation, Fla.-based Storkie Express, which is opening a satellite executive office in Southern Nevada.
Jonathan Gudai, vice president of business development for Storkie, said the company would create 12 jobs, 20 percent more than required by statute for the grants, and an average wage of $22.09 an hour, 41 percent more than the required industry average.
The company’s expansion plans include growing to 17 positions by the end of next month and 50 positions long-term.
Storkie, which produces custom-designed invitations and greeting cards, will have marketing and public relations, software and product development and customer service positions in its Las Vegas office.