PULLMAN — An environmentally based cleanser company is settling in Pullman, thanks in part to an estimated $10.5 million in state tax breaks and city funding.
Method, a cleanser company relying on natural, nontoxic, biodegradable ingredients, announced Tuesday it will build its first U.S. manufacturing plant at East 111th Street and South Doty Avenue. The $33 million plant, which will break ground later this year and be up and running by early 2015, will employ 100 people and benefit from $1.1 million in state tax credits over 10 years and as much as $9 million in city Tax Increment Finance district funds, as well as other public funding.
"Both the state and the city were partners in efforts here financially," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a news conference announcing the project at the US Bank in Pullman. "These are exactly what the dollars are for."
Calling TIFs "tools to create this kind of economic opportunity," Emanuel touted Method as a progressive company drawn to a progressive city.
"Like Method, the City of Chicago is pro-business and pro-environment," said Method's Chief Greenskeeper Adam Lowry, who co-founded the firm in San Francisco in 2000. He said it was based on the notion that business "could be a force for social and environmental good" and to "do well by doing good," adding, "The bigger we get, the more good we do."
Lowry said the decision to settle in Pullman was dictated by looking ahead to 2050, when it's estimated that 80 percent of the population will live in major cities. "We want to be urban," he added.
The company originally considered 150 locations for its first U.S. manufacturing plant, and the finalists were Michigan and Illinois. "It came down to two states and two cities, and they picked Chicago," Emanuel said.
Altruistic as the company may be, the public funding provided a powerful lure, as did the city's diverse workforce and the location's convenience to highways and rail lines. Yet the city was also getting something in the deal.
"These jobs will help workers raise a family, buy a home, send a child to college and eventually retire," said Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who helped broker the deal to bring the firm to Pullman. "More jobs and more good-paying jobs will equal less crime in our community."
Both Beale and Emanuel said the investment in the area could be used as leverage to spur development in the neighborhood, perhaps even brightening prospects for the Hotel Florence.