Deal Reached to Keep International Paper in Memphis

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(Memphis) - A deal has been reached that keeps International Paper Co. from leaving Memphis. The tax deal between Memphis, Shelby County, and International Paper keeps the Fortune 500 Company in town for at least 15 years.

The company will get a 90 discount on city taxes and a 75 percent discount on county taxes during that time. It's  an agreement similar to ones given to other Memphis companies recently, including Mitsubishi and Electrolux.

The tax abatement covers I.P.'s existing property and property where they will expand.  

"It's one that benefits both of us," Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said.

The agreement, negotiated by the president of a group called EDGE, Economic Development Growth Engine, keeps the Fortune 500 company in Memphis for at least 15 years.

"International Paper has just been a great community partner for Memphis. It is a very prestigious company," Luttrell said. "It is a company that contributes to the welfare of the community in addition to employing over 2300 people."

The global paper and packaging company is also pleased with the deal.

In a statement to WREG I.P. said it will "bring more jobs to Memphis and to build an additional 4th tower on or near our poplar avenue complex. We think this could be a win-win for Memphis, Shelby County, and for international paper employees."

"We are giving millions of dollars to the richest people to stay rich," AFSCME Executive Director Chad Johnson said.

Johnson heads a union that represents some local government workers and questions the deal.

"Folks we represent at the city are on their second year of a 4.6 percent pay cut and we're talking about giving millions of dollars in property taxes to a Fortune 500 company," Johnson said.

While Johnson wants proof that the city and county will get their bang for their buck, Mayor Luttrell said the community will see it.

"We have some incentives on an anticipated return that it will make our incentives worth the effort," he said.

The next step in the process is for edge to approve the deal. They will vote on December 19th.