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Sunnyside offers plum in effort to attract more businesses to town

The Sunnyside City Council last night, Monday, approved an incentive to lure new businesses to town that pledge to hire at least 50 workers.

Sunnyside previously had a policy in place to assist new employers with payments toward the costs of installing water and sewer infrastructure.

The incentive approved last night allows the city to provide credits against building permit, inspection and plan review fees. The benefits have to be approved on a case-by-case basis by the city council.

City Manager Eric Swansen said the idea is to use the fee credits as a way to bring in a large employer like a distribution center that would pay a family wage.

The original resolution provided that the incentives to do business in Sunnyside required the company to hire 100 employees. Swansen said a threshold is needed so that every new employer doesn't try to obtain the credits for having only two or three employees.

Councilwoman Theresa Hancock noted that some of Sunnyside's biggest employers have far fewer than 100 employees. She said that Darigold has about 50 workers and JM Eagle has nearly the same. She called for "more flexibility than 100 new jobs."

As a result, council agreed to amend the proposed legislation to read that an employer must provide at least 50 new jobs.

The legislation not only applies to new businesses coming to town, but to projects that involve retention and expansion of existing businesses.

In addition, Swansen noted the resolution contains language in which the business must document it has brought on the new employees. If a company doesn't meet the 50-employee threshold the fee credits could be rescinded.

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