N.J. offers tax credits to keep Dietz in Delanco

Eleven area fire companies battled the blaze in September. More than 10 million pounds of ruined meat products were later hauled away.
Eleven area fire companies battled the blaze in September. More than 10 million pounds of ruined meat products were later hauled away. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 27, 2014

DELANCO The New Jersey Economic Development Authority has offered Dietz & Watson Co. $30.8 million in tax credits to rebuild a meat storage plant in Delanco destroyed by fire last year.

Officials of the Philadelphia-based cold-cuts company did not return requests for comment Tuesday, or indicate if they were considering offers from other states for assistance to rebuild.

The blaze started on the roof of the firm's main distribution plant early Sept. 1, and took 11 area fire companies two days to bring under control.

Despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters, the 260,000-square-foot plant on Cooperstown Road was gutted, with more than 10 million pounds of ruined meat products later hauled away. There were no fatalities or major injuries.

Tim Lizura, president of the quasi-public authority, said Tuesday that Dietz & Watson had applied for tax credits to replace the facility with a 160,000-square-foot refrigerated storage facility, a 25,000-square-foot office building, and a 16,000-square-foot garage.

Lizura said the 75-year-old company had certified in its application that a new facility would preserve 135 full-time jobs and add 213, with a median wage of $40,000.

The criteria for calculating a tax credit are regulated by statute and based substantially on the number of new jobs and jobs retained, said Lizura.

"We then make a net-benefit test to ensure that even after we give that amount, the state is at least 10 percent better off with the offer," he said.

A summary issued by the authority estimated that the project would have a net benefit to New Jersey of $124 million over 20 years.

The tax credits, of $3.085 million per year for 10 years, would be awarded through the Grow New Jersey program.

Lizura said the company would have to annually certify for 15 years that it had kept at least the number of employees it predicted in its application.

Last year, company CEO Louis Eni said he hoped to rebuild, but indicated the building had been underused and its replacement might not be as large.

According to the authority, the company indicated that without tax credits it would likely opt to expand its storage and distribution facilities at its main plant in Philadelphia's Tacony section.

In 2013, Delanco received about $214,000 in local property taxes from Dietz & Watson, or roughly 4 percent of its $5 million operating budget.


doreilly@phillynews.com

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