Biden Treasury Nominee Janet Yellen Seeks Large Tax Increases

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021, 9:16 AM PERMALINK

Members of the Senate Finance Committee are considering the nomination of Janet Yellen to be Secretary of the Treasury.

Yellen supports several tax increases including repeal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which reduced taxes for middle class families and small businesses. Yellen also supports a $2 trillion energy tax that would increase the cost of electricity and consumer goods and services for Americans across the country.

Yellen opposes the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, as noted in an April 2018 op-ed where she argued that there was no need for a tax cut because, “the economy was already at or close to full employment and did not need a boost.”

Americans who found jobs after the enactment of the tax cuts would disagree. After the tax cuts were signed into law in December 2017, the unemployment rate dropped from 4.1% down to 3.5% just before the pandemic hit. African American unemployment dropped from 6.7% to 5.8% and Hispanic unemployment dropped from 5.0% to 4.4%. Over 5.1 million jobs were created from December 2017 to February 2020. Median household income increased by $4,440 or 6.8% in 2019 -- the largest one-year wage growth in history.

It is important to note that this economic prosperity came despite significant headwinds to the economy. In fact, Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi estimated that tariffs imposed by President Trump cost 450,000 jobs per year they were in effect.

Repealing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will repeal the 20 percent small business deduction and raise the corporate rate, which will prolong the economic downturn and hider growth and the creation of new jobs.

It will also directly increase taxes on American families.

American middle-income families saw significant tax reduction because of the TCJA. Specifically, taxpayers with AGI of between $50,000 and $100,000 saw their tax liability drop by an average of 13 percent. This is more than twice as much as taxpayers with AGI of $1 million or more, who saw their average tax liability drop by 5.8 percent.

In addition, repeal of the tax cuts means the individual mandate tax will come back into force, hitting five million households with a tax of between $695 and $2,085. 75 percent of these households make less than $50,000 per year.

Yellen also supports an Energy Tax of at least $40 per ton of Carbon. Yellen is a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), an “international policy institute” lobbying Congress to pass this carbon tax, which would increase every year at 5% above inflation.” Yellen is also the author of a recent study commissioned by CLC,  Exceeding Paris, that recommends a $43/ton carbon tax.

There is bipartisan recognition that an energy tax would harm low-income households and increase the cost of electricity and household goods. In 2016, Hillary Clinton decided to oppose a carbon tax after she learned the following from an internal Clinton report prepared by policy staff:

  • The Hillary memo states that a carbon tax would devastate low-income households: “As with the increase in energy costs, the increase in the cost of nonenergy goods and services would disproportionately impact low-income households.”
     
  • The Hillary memo states that a carbon tax would cause gas prices to increase 40 cents a gallon and residential electricity prices to increase 12% - 21%: “In our analysis, for example, a $42/ton GHG fee increases gasoline prices by roughly 40 cents per gallon on average between 2020 and 2030 and residential electricity prices by 2.6 cents per kWh, 12% and 21% above levels projected in the EIA’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook respectively. 
     
  • The Hillary memo states a carbon tax would cause household energy bills to go up significantly: “Average household energy costs would increase by roughly $480 per year, or 10% relative to the levels projected in EIA’s 2014 Outlook.”
     
  • The Hillary memo states that a carbon tax would increase the cost of household goods and services: “The cost of other household goods and services would increase as well as companies pass forward the higher energy costs paid to produce those goods and services on to consumers.”

Photo Credit: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy University of Michigan


Biden Pick Marty Walsh is Big Labor’s Top Choice To Lead DOL

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, January 18th, 2021, 3:35 PM PERMALINK

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to run the Department of Labor (DOL). As the first union member set to lead DOL in nearly 50 years, Walsh is the latest confirmation that the Biden administration will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of union bosses and Big Labor. 

Throughout his campaign, Biden pledged to deliver for Big Labor’s anti-freelancer and anti-worker freedom priorities. On the day before the presidential election, Biden promised a group of union workers in Pennsylvania that he’d be the “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.” 

Biden’s pick has been praised by AFL-CIO union boss Richard Trumka, who said that Walsh “...will be an exceptional labor secretary for the same reason he was an outstanding mayor: he carried the tools. As a longtime union member, Walsh knows that collective bargaining is essential...”

Biden has even promised to bring Trumka with him in the Oval Office, saying “if I’m in the Oval Office, guess who’s going to be there with me? Unions, labor, you. Rich, the bad news for you is there’s no getting away from me...because I’ll be coming for you.”

Installing one of Trumka’s top allies at DOL to execute Big Labor’s agenda would be the perfect way to achieve Biden’s promise. 

Biden has repeatedly endorsed the job-killing PRO Act, which would ban Right to Work Laws that protect 166 million workers in 27 states, more than half the U.S. population. Right to Work laws allow workers the freedom of employment without forced membership in a union or forced payment to a union boss.

Biden has explicitly called for the end of Right to Work, saying: "We should change the federal law [so] that there is no Right to Work allowed anywhere in the country. For real. Not a joke. Not a joke."

Biden’s real motivation for invalidating Right to Work laws is simple enough – Big Labor is one of Biden’s biggest backers, and unions have collectively spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get Biden elected. Forcing American workers to pay union dues that almost uniformly support Democrat candidates, whether they want to or not, is a clear return on that investment.  

The PRO Act would also dismantle the gig economy by implementing California’s “ABC” test to determine whether or not a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. The ABC test, codified under California’s disastrous AB5 law, makes it harder for employers to hire independent contractors but easier for unions to unionize workers. 

Thanks to AB5, countless freelancers and independent contractors have fled California to participate in the gig economy in other states. 

ATR has collected 655 testimonials from Californians that detail how AB5 has pummeled freelancers and independent contractors. For example:

"I lost the career and relationship I was building with a content writing company." [Link]

"AB5 is why I had to pack my very ill husband with stage 4 cancer and autistic son and leave the state. There is no way I can take care of our family and work a 'traditional' type job." [Link]

"I'm a certified court interpreter. I've been very happily freelancing for 15 years. I can choose which agencies to work with, and work as much or as little as I want to spend time with my 3-year-old. AB5 is destroying my wonderful work/life combo." [Link]

If the PRO Act is implemented, expect these sad stories to come from all fifty states. 

While Walsh may not yet be a household name, the radical agenda he and Biden supports has been crushing worker freedom and independent contractors for years. If Walsh is confirmed, workers will be once again forced to join unions and pay union dues whether they want to or not, and freelancers all across the country will see their livelihoods destroyed with the stroke of a pen. 

The Senate should reject Walsh’s nomination.

Photo Credit: Matt Bargar


To Sell Tax Increases, Team Biden Tries to Rewrite Pre-Pandemic Economic History

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Posted by John Kartch on Monday, January 18th, 2021, 1:12 PM PERMALINK

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to impose tax increases on the American people, his top economic adviser Brian Deese is attempting to rewrite pre-pandemic economic history.

Deese, tapped by Biden to serve as director of the National Economic Council, appeared for an interview on Fox News Sunday hosted by Chris Wallace. When Wallace questioned the wisdom of raising taxes, Deese said the pre-Covid economy wasn't working for most Americans:

WALLACE: "Unemployment was 3.5% before Covid hit back in February. Is raising taxes and increasing regulations -- both of which President-elect Biden has talked about -- is that really the answer to get back to what was a pretty strong economy before the pandemic?"

DEESE: "I think if you ask most American people, was that an economy that was working for them? The answer would be no."

WATCH:

Nice try, Mr. Deese.

Before the pandemic:

  • 3.5% unemplyment, a 50-year low.

 

  • In 2019, real median household income increased by $4,000 or nearly 7%. This wage growth exceeded the gains made throughout the eight years of the Obama-Biden administration, where wages increased by just $3,000 or 5%.

 

  • African American and Hispanic Americans saw their median income hit record levels.

 

  • The poverty rate declined to 10.5%, the lowest rate in decades.

 

  • The bottom 25% of wage earners experienced wage growth faster than the top 25% of wage earners.

 

For more information about Biden's proposed tax increases, visit ATR.org/HighTaxJoe

 


How the Republican Tax Cuts Are Helping Wisconsin

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Posted by John Kartch on Monday, January 18th, 2021, 6:10 AM PERMALINK

Wisconsin is benefiting greatly from the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act enacted by Republicans in 2017:

Individual mandate tax relief: 82,060 Wisconsin households are no longer stuck paying the much-loathed individual mandate tax, thanks to the TCJA's elimination of this tax. 80% of Wisconsin households hit with this tax made less than $50,000 per year. Be warned, Joe Biden wants to bring this tax back from the dead, one of the many reasons Biden can't be trusted on taxes.

424,970 Wisconsin households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the child tax credit.

Every income group in every Wisconsin congressional district received a tax cut. Nationwide, a typical family of four received a $2,000 annual tax cut and a single parent with one child received a $1,300 annual tax cut.

1,954,190 Wisconsin households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the standard deduction. Thanks to the tax cuts, nine out of ten households take the standard deduction which provides tax relief and simplifies the tax filing process.

Lower utility bills: As a direct result of the TCJA’s corporate tax rate cut, Wisconsin residents are saving money on utility bills. Lower electric, water, and gas bills help households and small businesses operating on tight margins. For example, Madison Gas & Electric, Alliant Energy, Wisconsin, Superior Water, Light & Power, and We Energies (see below) all passed along tax cut savings to their customers. 

Thanks to the tax cuts, Wisconsin businesses of all sizes are hiring, expanding, raising pay and increasing employee benefits:

MusicNotes (Madison, Wisconsin) – Salary increases for employees:

The new year brings a new salary increase for all 55 employees at Musicnotes, Inc., the worldwide leader in digital sheet music based in Madison, Wisconsin. Effective January 1st, the 3% salary increase is tied specifically to corporate tax reform and is in addition to Musicnotes' existing annual raises to eligible employees. 

"We're genuinely appreciative of our loyal and gifted team at Musicnotes and we are thrilled to share the benefit of lower corporate taxes with them," said Executive Chairman, Tim Reiland. "It's the right thing to do and it's also smart business."

After a strong 2017 sales performance, Musicnotes was named to the Internet Retailer Top 1000 list for the 13th straight year in 2017 and garners over half of the worldwide digital sheet music market, according to traffic statistics from SimilarWeb. The company has sold products to over six million customers since 1998.

"Musicnotes has paid a full corporate tax rate over the past several years," indicated Reiland. "Beyond the Jan 1 salary increases, we will accelerate hiring plans and also have increased flexibility regarding technology projects and investment opportunities in 2018 and beyond." – Jan. 8, 2018 MusicNotes press release

Quad/Graphics (Sussex, Wisconsin) - Giving employees stock for their retirement accounts:

Quad/Graphics Inc., the international printing company based in Sussex, said this week that Instead of a one-time bonus, the company will transfer roughly $22 million in Quad/Graphics stock to its employees' retirement accounts.

In his fourth quarter 2017 earnings call with analysts this week, chairman, president and CEO Joel Quadracci said the stock gift was "made possible by tax reform legislation."

"We received a benefit from tax reform and decided it made sense to invest this back into our employee base who is helping drive our transformation as a company," said company spokeswoman Claire Ho.- February 23, 2018, Milwaukee Business Journal article excerpt

Trico (Pewaukee, Wisconsin) -- 401(k) expansions, bonuses, and creation of new jobs:

For example, as a direct result of the tax cuts, full-time employees at the Pewaukee-based Trico Corporation will receive $650 bonuses and increased contributions into their 401(k) accounts. The company will also hire more full-time workers to fill new positions. - April 17, 2018, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner article excerpt

Brian's Electric (Stratford, Wisconsin) – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the company to increase wages:

Jacobs told Budget & Tax News he has passed the benefits of TCJA along to his employees,

“I gave out, when you add it all up, about $150 an hour worth of wage increases,” Jacobs said. “Depending on how they have their taxes taken out of their checks, the lowest was around $14 a week in net take home pay, all the way up to $65 in net take home pay.” – Sept. 12, 2018, Heartland Institute article.

The Platform (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) -- The company is building a co-working space and food hall which is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Developers offered look Monday at the progress on a $16 million project to turn a cold storage building into a co-working space and food hall in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood.

The first floor-to-ceiling window has been installed in the nine-story building at 2937-67 E. Grand Blvd. It will be among dozens of windows that will pour light into the long-abandoned building known for its rainbow-colored mural.

"It is a relatively small project but because it is out of the norm, it attracts a great deal of interest," said Peter Cummings, executive The Platform, the Detroit-based development group undertaking the project.

For example, the Chroma project falls under Opportunity Zone rules that allow investors to reduce or avoid capital gains taxes by investing in designated areas. Ferrari will participate in a session Tuesday on the topic of successful opportunity zone investments. -- April 30, 2019 Detroit News article

Koehler Flooring, Inc. (Green Bay, Wisconsin) – This family carpet and flooring company gave $1,000 bonuses to seven full-time employees:

The tax reform bill is a huge win for the USA and will have positive effects on our floor covering business. Our customers have more capital to use for expansion and remodeling which is great news for all construction trades. There is more work to be done on the tax code but it's nice to see this recent reversal on punishing success. My crew was very happy to receive their tax reform good news.” -- David Koehler, President.

Americollect (Manitowoc, Wisconsin) $300 - $500 bonuses for 250 employees:

A Manitowoc-based company will give its roughly 250 employees a bonus following Congress's passage of the tax reform bill the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

In an email to employees Wednesday, Americollect President and CEO Kenlyn T. Gretz said: “Today, Congress passed the tax reform bill; our company will be taxed less because of it. Since we will now be taxed less, I wanted to take this opportunity and utilize this financial benefit to give back to each of you, our teammates, by directly impacting your paycheck in the form of a bonus!”

Gretz said: “We find great joy in being able to provide this bonus to the employees, who really are the heart and soul of what we do. Full-time employees can expect to see as much as a $500 bonus come 2019 and even part-time employees will be included.” -- Dec. 21, 2017 Manitowoc Herald Times article excerpt

Melron Corporation (Schofield, Wisconsin) -- The company was able to give employees a pay raise because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Thanks to the trump tax cuts, I've been able to raise my employees wages so they got a pay raise and the tax cuts. Even in the face of the pandemic the president doubled down on his support for business. -- Debbie Flood Speech at RNC, Aug. 27, 2020

American Family Insurance (Madison, Wisconsin): 11,000 workers will receive a $1,000 bonus:

“American Family Insurance said Friday it will give 11,000 workers a one-time bonus of $1,000, becoming the latest U.S. company to pass some of the savings from federal tax reform to employees.

The Madison-based insurer said the reduction in the corporate income tax rate also would help fuel permanent changes to its employee benefits program, such as expanded tuition reimbursement, help paying student loans and scholarships for workers who pursue a post-high school degree.

In addition, American Family said its family leave program now will provide employees with paid leave to care for an ill child of any age or for a spouse or domestic partner.

 “Our success rests with our people who are dedicated to helping our customers,” Bill Westrate, American Family Insurance president, said in a statement. “These changes demonstrate our commitment to our people, today and into the future, with expanded benefits and educational support, and to the communities where we do business.”

American Family said Friday the company will contribute $10 million to its Dreams Foundation, which supports programs and provides grants to nonprofits. This year, American Family said, the foundation will provide a one-time, two-to-one match for employee and agent donations to qualifying charities, a boost from the one-to-one match in place since the Dreams Foundation was established in 2016. – Jan. 26 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article excerpt

Twisted Path (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the business is planning on hiring new employees:

With less than 20 days until the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act expires, local craft distillers are getting nervous. Brian Sammons, owner of Twisted Path Distillery in Milwaukee's Bay View area and president of the Wisconsin Distillers Guild, said the last few weeks have been scary for him and his small craft business.

"It's goofy to have this much business uncertainty just hanging in the balance," Sammons said.

…..

Sammons only has two full-time employees and four part-time. He is waiting to hire a full-time sales and marketing person because of the act's uncertain future.

Local distillers such as Sammons points to the political distractions in the House and Senate as a reason for the act's idleness. The act is bipartisan with 326 co-sponsors in the House and 73 co-sponsors in the Senate, more than three-quarters representation in each chamber. – Dec. 16, 2019, Milwaukee Business Journal article.

Sprecher Brewing Company (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – The brewery used savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to reinvest in the company and create new jobs:

"Other breweries in this area are certainly doing the same thing with the savings they get as we are here," said Jeff Hamilton, president of Sprecher Brewing Company. "This act gave a bit of a tax break to all alcohol producers."

Right now, the team at Sprecher said the money saved from the tax breaks goes back into the business.

"Gives us additional funds that can be reinvested back into the company," Hamilton said. "Back into creating additional products, which on top of that creates new jobs."  Oct. 9, 2019, Fox 9 article.

RF Development (Menasha, Wisconsin) -- The company is redeveloping a building and creating commercial and residential space in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Alderman Stan Sevenich said the proposed $10 million redevelopment of the former Brin Building property could be one of the best things to happen in Menasha in the past 100 years.

"I actually think that this is probably going to be the catalyst that will really turn Menasha into the gem of the Valley," Sevenich told The Post-Crescent.

RF Development of Menasha, the same group that owns the former City Hall at 140 Main St., intends to construct a three-building commercial and residential complex on the Brin site at the southeast corner Main and Tayco streets.

Sevenich and the rest of the Common Council reviewed the proposal Dec. 16 and unanimously directed city staff to negotiate a development agreement for the project.

The agreement could come back to the council for approval as soon as January. Sevenich said RF Development could begin construction by late spring.

"This is going to be somewhat on the fast track," Sevenich said.

The development has a tentative completion date of spring 2021.

According to plan, RF Development would purchase the Brin property from the city for $1 and then redevelop it as follows:

Building 1: A three-story mixed-use building at the corner would have 8,148 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor and 16 market-rate apartments on the upper floors.

Building 2: A four-story residential building along Tayco would have 30 market-rate apartments. The two apartment buildings would be connected by a skywalk.

Building 3: A 3,000-square-foot restaurant near the Fox River navigational canal.

Parking: The development would have 40 underground stalls and 55 surface stalls.

Mayor Don Merkes said the project would set the tone for future developments and would offer connections to the city's trails and waterfront.

"I think it really sends a good message as you're coming into town that this is the entry to our downtown and this is what you can expect to see when you're downtown," Merkes told The Post-Crescent.

Sam Schroeder, the city's director of community development, described the proposal as "an iconic and influential project that will lead a path of urban renewal and growth in our downtown."

Menasha officials had been marketing the site to potential developers to create a new anchor for the downtown. The site lies in an Opportunity Zone, which provides investors with certain federal tax advantages. -- December 25, 2019 The Post-Crescent article

White Lotus Group (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) -- The company announced that they will be building 100 affordable apartments located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

The former Fletcher School property near Northridge Mall in Milwaukee could be sold to developer White Lotus Group for 100 new affordable apartments and community spaces for local social service groups including the YMCA.  White Lotus Group, based in Omaha, Nebraska, expects the project will cost $28 million, according to a city of Milwaukee report on the proposed property sale. The one-story school at 9500 W. Allyn St. has been vacant since 2009. The city would sell it for $500,000.  

White Lotus has a “special affinity” for rehabbing vacant former schools into housing, and is exploring multiple opportunities to do that in Milwaukee, said Scott Henry, executive vice president of development in the company’s Chicago office.  

  “The real estate tends to be good, the buildings tend to be built well and solidly and they are beloved properties in the community that people want to see saved,” he said.  White Lotus would build three vertical floors on top of the existing Fletcher school for a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The first floor would have about 70,000 square feet of community space dedicated for local social-service organizations. Those organizations could provide financial literacy training, or help people find jobs, for example, Henry said. 

 Potential partners for that space are the YMCA, Social Development Commission and CrossWay Church, according to the city report.  The apartments would be for people making 50% to 80% of the area’s median income level, Henry said. It would become a modern housing option for people in the local workforce, he said.  White Lotus must secure low-income housing tax credits to finance the development. It would apply in December to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to compete for them. If White Lotus succeeds in winning the credits, it would buy Fletcher School in August 2020.   

 Evers reveals businesses allowed to operate under Safer at Home order  Businesses allowed to operate under the Safer at Home order include banks and health care operations COMING EVENT Power Breakfast June 19   White Lotus plans to use other public financing mechanisms to pay for the project. Those include the federal Opportunity Zone program, Henry said. The federal Opportunity Zone program offers tax breaks to investors who put money received from capital gains into developments in low-income areas.  White Lotus usually works with larger corporations seeking to invest multimillion-dollar sums through the Opportunity Zone program. While that financing would be available for Fletcher School, Henry said there’s also room for local investors who may want to participate. -- November 11, 2019 Milwaukee Business Journal article

Madison Gas & Electric (Madison, Wisconsin) - The utility is passing along tax cut savings to customers:

Madison Gas & Electric will return a one-time credit of $9.23 to its residential electric customers and $4.80 to natural gas customers by July 31. After that, electric bills will dip about $1.56 a month and gas bills by about $1 a month in 2018, MGE spokesman Steve Schultz said. That totals about $8 million worth of credits, according to PSC calculations.

The money represents excess taxes the companies have been collecting from ratepayers. Utility rates, set in advance, anticipated a 35 percent corporate tax rate. But Congress, in its tax reform package, lowered the rate to 21 percent. – May 26, 2018 Wisconsin State Journal article excerpt

Great Lakes Distillery (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – Used savings from the Tax Cuts And Jobs Act to add space and buy new equipment:

When the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act was passed two years ago, Great Lakes Distillery founder and owner Guy Rehorst was able to make a lot of advances to his business with the added savings. He added space to his Walker's Point distillery at 616 W. Virginia St. in Milwaukee. He also added new equipment and new personnel and began producing more product for future sale. – Dec. 10, 2019, Milwaukee Business Journal.

Stillmank Brewery (Green Bay, Wisconsin) – The owner of the brewery said that he was able to use savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to create new jobs and grow his company:

It did help us,” Brad Stillmank, Owner and Brewer at Stillmank Brewery in Green Bay said, “you know, accelerate our growth to where we are now.”

Stillmank added that his brewery currently produces between 1,500 and 2,000 barrels of beer annually, meaning that with the tax cuts, his business is saving almost $7,000 every year.

He explained that breweries are still taxed in other ways, despite the cut, “We’re still responsible for paying all the other taxes that any other business would have to, this is just a tax that’s above and beyond for our particular business segment.”

....

Stillmank says that over the past two years, he has been able to invest more in his business and the community, evening hiring extra personnel as a result of the tax breaks.

“For the last two years we’ve been doing our best to take advantage of the opportunity that we have had with that,” he explained, “and we have grown our company and we have added employees.”

Without the tax cuts, Scanzello told Local 5 he worries that that kind of growth will falter across the area, including in businesses that supply local breweries.

“Cleaning chemical companies, hop purveyors, or equipment manufacturers are all going to be impacted by anything that’s going to stunt the growth in the industry,” he said. – Dec. 11, 2019,  CBS Green Bay Article.

Alliant Energy, Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin) - The utility is passing along tax cut savings to customers:

Alliant said its retail electric costs will rise by a total of $194 million in 2019 and 2020 as it brings on the 700-megawatt, natural gas-fueled West Riverside power plant near Beloit in the second half of 2019.

Alliant’s natural gas expenses are projected to rise $24 million over that period.

But rather than raising customer rates, the utility said it will cut costs via fuel savings and income tax reductions. - May 26, 2018 Wisconsin State Journal article excerpt

Superior Water, Light & Power (Superior, Wisconsin) – the utility is passing along tax reform savings to customers:

Residential customers of Superior Water, Light & Power will receive a $31.80 lump-sum credit on July bills as a result of savings accrued from the tax law Congress passed last year, according to an order issued Thursday by the Public Service Commission.

Customers in all categories will receive lump-sum and ongoing credits for each provided service. The largest electrical customer will receive a $61,807 lump sum credit and other non-residential customers will receive lump-sum electric credits varying from $13.70 to $3,106 depending on customer classification, according to the PSC order.

SWL&P estimated its total customer credits this year at $1.322 million. – May 29, 2018, Superior Telegram article excerpt

We Energies (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – the utility is passing along tax reform savings to customers:

We Energies electric customers will receive a one-time credit in July and a slight decrease in electric rates in subsequent months from a portion of the savings from the company's lower federal corporate tax rate, state regulators decided on Thursday.

The Public Service Commission determined that 20 percent of the immediate savings from the lower tax rate should be passed on to customers.

The remaining 80 percent of the savings will go toward paying down deferred costs that stood at $424.5 million as of Dec. 31 but that are not included in current rates.

"It will be a win-win for our customers — providing an immediate bill credit while also helping to reduce future rate increases," Cathy Schulze, a We Energies spokeswoman, said in an email.   - April 26, 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article excerpt

Central Standard Distillery (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the distillery to hire four new employees, invest in a new facility, and ordered a new bottling line:

Central Standard Distillery co-owner Evan Hughes said his business was able to grow faster than it normally would because of the act. He attributes four key growth areas to the success of the act, including: Central Standard hired four new employees, bringing staff totals to 22 people. The company invested in a 15,000-square-foot facility on Clybourn Street. In addition, Central Standard ordered a new bottling line for improved efficiency and offered health care to all of its employees.

"It gave us the courage to expand our business quicker than we normally would," Hughes said. – Dec. 10, 2019, Milwaukee Business Journal.

Associated Bank (Green Bay, Wisconsin) – a base wage increase from $10 to $15 per hour and $500 bonuses:

Associated Bank today announced plans to raise its minimum hourly wage from $10 to $15 per hour and to distribute a one-time bonus of $500 for all hourly, non-commissioned employees once tax reform legislation is signed into law.

The pay increase and one-time bonus are expected to be distributed during the first pay cycle of 2018. This combined investment in the company's workforce will positively impact 55% of its employees.

"Every day our customers share stories of our colleagues delivering a positive customer experience," said Associated Bank President and CEO, Philip B. Flynn. "Our ability to recognize their work in this way is something we are proud to do."

Flynn said the new tax legislation, particularly the reduction in business tax rates, allowed the company to share some of the benefits with its employees. It also helps position the company to further enhance the customer experience and its community investments in the future. -- Dec. 21, 2017 Associated Bank press release

Blue Harbor Resort (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) -- $1,000 bonuses:

The Forsythe Family today dedicated a one-time cash bonus of $1,000 to each eligible Blue Harbor employee.

The Forsythe Family’s financial dedication to Blue Harbor employees is in direct response to President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017. – Jan. 25, 2018 MySheboygan.com article excerpt

Copperleaf Assisted Living (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) –  $200 - $600 bonuses for 175 employees:

An assisted-living business will give its 175 employees bonuses up to $600 as a result of the tax reform package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump on Friday.

Krista Mendyke, who owns Copperleaf Assisted Living with her husband, Jim, said they will give away all of the company's estimated tax savings as a result of the legislation.

Copperleaf, which is based in Stevens Point, also has facilities in Schofield, Marathon City, Ripon and Adams.

"It's really to bring awareness to what's going on in our country and how it impacts them ... and that businesses and corporations do want to do the right thing," Mendyke said Friday.

Every employee will receive a bonus, which will start at $200 and be tiered based upon the worker's status of casual, part-time or full-time. About 60 full-time employees will receive the maximum bonus of $600, she said.

Mendyke said she and her husband will visit each facility on Tuesday to hand out the bonus checks.

In total, they are giving away $60,000 in bonuses, "our entire tax savings" estimated for 2018 based on changes to business income tax rates, she said.

"I called (our accountant) yesterday and I said, what does this mean for us, a company our size?" Mendyke said Friday. "They sent us a projection and we're going to go ahead and pass that on." Dec. 22, 2017 Stevens Point Journal article excerpt

CUNA Mutual Group (Madison, Wisconsin) – $20 million in charitable contributions:

"CUNA Mutual Group said Tuesday the company is making its largest contribution ever to its philanthropic foundation, a $20 million donation made possible in part by federal tax reform." -- Feb. 13 2018, Journal Sentinel article excerpt

BMO Harris Bank200 locations in Wisconsin -- base wage raised to $15 per hour; increased charitable donations:

“BMO Harris Bank has joined an increasing number of financial institutions in raising its minimum hourly wage to $15.

The bank cited the recent federal tax reform, which lowered the corporate income tax rate, in its decision to boost employee compensation.

The new rate is effective immediately, the company said Tuesday. BMO Harris, which is based in Chicago and owned by Toronto's BMO Financial Group, has more branches than any other bank in Wisconsin.

BMO Harris also said it will increase its level of philanthropic community giving by 10% in 2018.

“We’re pleased to share the benefits of the strong economic conditions, and the effects of the recent tax reform changes, with our employees and communities,” David Casper, president and chief executive of BMO Harris Bank, said in a statement. “Our success is tied directly to the communities we serve, and we’re proud of the exceptional job our employees do in providing a great customer experience.” – Jan. 31 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article excerpt

Johnson Bank (Racine, Wisconsin) – base wage raised to $15 per hour.

North Shore Bank (Brookfield, Wisconsin) -- $500 bonuses.

Plexus Corp. (Neenah, Wisconsin) – cash bonuses for non-executive employees:

“In order to reward employees for their contributions towards Plexus’ success, Plexus will provide existing, full-time, non-executive employees a one-time cash bonus.  This bonus will be provided in the fiscal second quarter to nearly 16,000 employees, totaling approximately $13 million.” – Feb. 20 2018, Plexus press release excerpt

Robert W. Baird & Company (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – Cash bonuses of up to $1,500; charitable contributions:

“Milwaukee's Robert W. Baird & Co. said it will pay cash bonuses of $500 to $1,500 to employees, joining the list of Wisconsin companies passing along some of the benefits of federal tax reform to their workers.

All full-time and part-time benefit-eligible employees of the financial services firm — except company leaders — will receive a $1,500 one-time cash bonus. Other part-time associates and long-term interns will receive a bonus of $500, Baird said.

Baird leaders will receive the benefit in the form of a $1,500 donation to the charity of their choice, which could amount to an additional $1.2 million being contributed to the community in 2018, the company said.

The one-time benefit will be awarded to Baird's more than 3,500 global employees and amounts to more than $5 million.” – March 2 2018, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article excerpt

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 2,684 Wisconsin employees; Nationwide, $1 billion increase in capital expenditures:

Today, Congress approved legislation representing the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation. The President is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

Once tax reform is signed into law, AT&T* plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States in 2018 and pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers. If the President signs the bill before Christmas, employees will receive the bonus over the holidays.

“Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

Since 2012, AT&T has invested more in the United States than any other public company. Every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 jobs for American workers, research shows. -- Dec. 20, 2017 AT&T Inc. press release

Home Depot -- 27 locations in Wisconsin, bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.

Lowe's -- 1,000 employees at 8 stores and one distribution center in Wisconsin. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance.

Apple (Apple store locations in Glendale, Madison, and Wauwatosa) -- $2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; Nationwide, $30 billion in additional capital expenditures over five years; 20,000 new employees will be hired; increased support of coding education and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; increased support for U.S. manufacturing.

Walmart – 89 stores in Wisconsin; Bonuses of up to $1,000; base wage increase for all hourly employees to $11; expanded maternity and parental leave; $5,000 for adoption expenses.

Wells Fargo – 51 locations in Wisconsin; raised base wage from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; Nationally, $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over the next three years.

Cintas Corporation (Multiple locations in Wisconsin) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 for employees of less than a year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Wisconsin) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; Nationally, $50 million investment in existing restaurants.

Comcast (Multiple locations in Wisconsin) -- $1,000 bonuses; Nationally, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five year.

Ryder (Fourteen locations in Wisconsin) – Tax reform bonuses.

Starbucks Coffee Company (145 locations in Wisconsin) –$500 stock grants for all retail employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plan and support center employee stock grants. Nationally, 8,000 new retail jobs; an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits and parental leave.

U-Haul (Multiple locations in Wisconsin) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

McDonald’s (325+ locations in Wisconsin) – Increased tuition investments which will provide educational program access for 400,000 U.S. employees. $2,500 per year (up from $700) for crew working 15 hours a week, $3,000 (up from $1,050) for managers, and more:

McDonald’s Corporation today announced it will allocate $150 million over five years to its global Archways to Opportunity education program. This investment will provide almost 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees with accessibility to the program as the company will also lower eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment and drop weekly shift minimums from 20 hours to 15 hours. Additionally, McDonald’s will also extend some education benefits to restaurant employees’ family members. These enhancements underscore McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.

The Archways to Opportunity program provides eligible U.S. employees an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language.  

“Our commitment to education reinforces our ongoing support of the people who play a crucial role in our journey to build a better McDonald’s,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s President and CEO. “By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that’s at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

Accelerated by changes in the U.S. tax law, McDonald’s increased investment in the Archways to Opportunity Program includes:

    • Increased Tuition Investment:
      • Crew: Eligible crew will have access to $2,500/year, up from $700/year.
      • Managers: Eligible Managers will have access to $3,000/year, up from $1,050.
      • Participants have a choice for how they apply this funding – whether it be to a community college, four year university or trade school. There is no lifetime cap on tuition assistance – restaurant employees will be able to pursue their education and career passions at their own pace. The new tuition assistance is effective May 1, 2018 and retroactive to January 1, 2018.
    • Lowered Eligibility Requirements: Increase access to the program by lowering eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment. In addition, dropping from 20 hours minimum to 15 hours minimum (roughly two full time shifts) per week to enable restaurant employees more time to focus on studies.
    • Extended Services to Families: Extension of Career Online High School and College Advisory services to restaurant employees’ family members through existing educational partners Cengage and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
    • Additional Resources: Career exploration resources for eligible restaurant employees to be available later this year.
    • Creation of an International Education Fund: Grants to provide local initiatives and incentives in global markets to further education advancement programs.
       

“Since its inception, Archways to Opportunity was meant to match the ambition and drive of restaurant crew with the means and network to help them find success on their own terms,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People Officer. “By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job, we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald’s, we’ll invest in your future.”

After launching in the U.S. in 2015, Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for over 24,000 people and awarded over $21 million in high school and college tuition assistance. Graduates have received college degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources, Communications, Accounting, Microbiology and more. – March 29, 2018 McDonald’s Corporation press release excerpt 

Note: If you know of other Wisconsin examples, please email John Kartch at jkartch@atr.org

The running nationwide list of companies can be found at www.atr.org/list

 

More from Americans for Tax Reform


How the Republican Tax Cuts Are Helping Texas

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Posted by John Kartch on Sunday, January 17th, 2021, 3:30 PM PERMALINK

Texas is benefiting greatly from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted by Republicans in 2017:

2,071,160 Texas households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the child tax credit.

Every income group in every Texas congressional district received a tax cut. Nationwide, a typical family of four received a $2,000 annual tax cut and a single parent with one child received a $1,300 annual tax cut.

9,243,880 Texas households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the standard deduction. Thanks to the tax cuts, nine out of ten households take the standard deduction which provides tax relief and simplifies the tax filing process.

559,420 Texas households are benefiting from the TCJA’s elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate tax. Most households hit with this tax made less than $50,000 per year.

Lower utility bills: As a direct result of the TCJA’s corporate tax rate cut, Texas residents are saving money on utility bills. Lower electric, water, and gas bills help households and small businesses operating on tight margins. For example, CenterPoint Energy, Quadvest Utilites, Entergy Texas, El Paso Electric Company, and Oncor Electric Delivery (see below) were all able to pass along their tax savings to customers in the form of lower rates and fees. 

Thanks to the tax cuts, Texas businesses of all sizes are hiring, expanding, raising pay and increasing employee benefits:

Cox Manufacturing (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company is hiring new employees and speeding up new facility construction:

For Cox, those savings may give the manufacturer some much-needed relief as it adds staff and equipment necessary to handle the increased orders the company’s been receiving over the last month or so, President Bill Cox said.

“The biggest benefit I think is not the tax savings, but the activity that’s going on. It’s just like crazy,” said Cox, whose company employs 150 and makes machined and other parts. “I had some older machines that we wanted to phase out and I just couldn’t believe how quickly they sold. I’m getting pressure to release them sooner than I wanted to.”

Demand has picked up dramatically since the bill was signed into law, he said. His backlog of orders has grown from six to eight weeks in December to 10 to 12 weeks now, and he’s having to move up construction of a new 8,000-square-foot manufacturing plant by at least a year in order to meet the growth.

“We needed it yesterday,” he said of the new facility.

Cox said his backlog of orders is starting to cost him work. The new factory and equipment — which he hopes to bring online this year — will cost at least $1.5 million, create 15 jobs and would add to his 54,000 square feet of existing manufacturing space. - February 7, 2018, San Antonio Express News article excerpt

Capital City Hospitality Group (Austin, Texas) – Hired over 50 employees as result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“I’m a big promoter of the tax reform, and I think it’s working,” said Round Rock hotel company owner Hitesh Patel.

“Patel, chief executive of Capital City Hospitality Group and immediate past chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, said the 2017 tax law’s provisions on exchanges of real estate have helped his company expand by more than 50 employees.” – Aug. 29, 2019 Dallas Morning News article

Village Foods & Pharmacy (Bryan, Texas) - employee bonuses, implement a 401(k) program:

Village Foods & Pharmacy Said They Were Able To Provide Employee Bonuses And Implement A 401(k) Program. - US Chamber of Commerce

Red Bluff Development (Austin, Texas) -- The company is building office and retail space in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.:  

JLL Capital Markets arranged $26.65 million in construction financing for the Red Bluff Development, a Class A, 91,635-square-foot office and retail development in a Qualified Opportunity Zone in Austin. The building will be the first phase of a mixed-use project. -- June 12, 2020 press release

Home Instead Senior Care -- Samuel and Brandy Patton, franchise owners  (El Paso, Texas) – As noted by the International Franchise Association, tax savings will help the Pattons achieve their goal of hiring 50 people in 2018:

“We fully plan on hiring more employees,” said Samuel Patton, who owns a Home Instead Senior Care franchise with his wife, Brandy, in El Paso, Texas. They’ve set a goal of hiring 50 people in 2018. “This tremendously helps with that endeavor as this money will assist with prerequisite items such as training, drug screens and background checks,” he said of the tax savings. “We will spend more money on advertising in our local community as well as increase training programs for current employees,” Patton added. – April 17, 2018 International Franchise Association report.  (The IFA has a growing list of franchisees who have pledged to hire additional workers, raise wages, purchase new equipment, or expand territories/purchase new franchise locations due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.)

Camp Construction Services (Houston, Texas) – This Houston-based full-service general contractor awarded its employees $500 tax reform bonuses in December 2017:

In a note to employees, CEO Roger C. Camp wrote:

              Campers,

I’m sure you have heard of the new tax reform that Congress just passed. Because of the reduction in Corporate taxes we, as will all businesses, benefit from this tax cut. We believe that YOU are the reason for our success. And now that we will be giving less of our hard earned income to the federal government, we can share some of it with you. Please look for a $500 “tax cut” bonus in your next payroll run. Merry Christmas!

One Coastal Bend (Corpus Christi, Texas) – The tax cut allowed the brewery to create new jobs and buy more equipment:

One Coastal Bend craft beer brewer is breathing a sigh of relief after Congress decided to extend a federal tax cut.

Nueces Brewing Company, co-owned by Brandon Harper, opened back in June with help from the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. The Reform Act allows breweries a cut in the amount of taxes paid on the first 100,000 proof gallons. A temporary excise tax cut was set to expire on Dec. 31.

Harper said Congress agreed to extend it for another year. Harper will continue to be taxed $7 on every barrel of beer he produces instead of $14.

"The last thing we want to have to do is to raise our prices. We want to be able to keep operating, provide great beer at affordable prices. It's hard for us to compete with the big boys," Harper said.

According to Harper, thanks to that tax cut he can now buy more equipment and hire more people. – Dec. 17, 2019, KIIITV article.

Motiva Enterprises (Beaumont, Texas) -- The company is building offices in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A $150 million investment planned for downtown Port Arthur from petrochemical giant Motiva Enterprises could be the largest of its kind and spark a "rebirth" of the town ravaged by Tropical Storm Harvey in 2017, officials said.

At a Thursday evening ceremony to formally announce the company's plans to purchase and renovate at least three buildings and move employees into the long-neglected city center, Motiva executive Travis Capps said there's "a lot of stuff" under consideration but that getting the buildings up and running is the priority.

He doesn't mind the swirling rumors that Motiva might bring more activity.

"I love all the rumors," he said. " … The rumors are great because they'll encourage other developers to come down and do stuff, too."

Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Pat Avery gushed to a crowd of about 450 residents, elected officials, public servants and Motiva executives and employees that, "For Port Arthur, Motiva is the artist."

The event also included comments from the mayor and a song about downtown Port Arthur from resident Dwight Wagner. May 16 was also deemed, "Imagine Port Arthur Day."

Port Arthur City Manager Derrick Freeman earlier this year called Motiva's planned purchase of the Hotel Sabine from the city earlier this year as part of its in-lieu-of-taxes agreement a "done deal."

But Thursday's ceremony focused on two other buildings the company has purchased — the Adams and Federal buildings at 440 and 500 Austin Ave., respectively.

The company plans to use the first building for short-term corporate lodging with some retail on the bottom floors.

The latter two buildings will ultimately house 500 office workers and help the company get rid of 220 trailers at the plant that many of them currently work in.

"So now as we look forward to the next decades, and what we need to house our offices and our employees, these buildings were staring at us. I see the refinery right up the street," Capps said. "We need about offices for 500 people, and that's what these two buildings can do. It's pretty straight-forward, from my perspective."

He denied rumors that the company plans to purchase still more buildings downtown.

Even without the purchase of additional buildings, the planned investment of $150 million downtown is one of the largest in an opportunity zone in the United States, Freeman said. -- May 9, 2019 Beaumont Enterprise article

 

Mathias Partners (Austin, Texas) -- The company, along with other groups, is building apartment units in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A group of Austin-based investors and developers wants to build high-rises in East Nashville, as part of a development that could involve as many as 1,400 residential units.

Those details are revealed in newly filed plans with Metro for a project named "Skyline East." The proposed development would easily rank among the most ambitious and wide-ranging projects attempted in East Nashville, which is historically known for its residential neighborhoods.

Austin-based Mathias Partners, which most recently helped bring The Tyndall condo project online in downtown Austin, is among the members of the development group, as disclosed in Metro documents. Riverchase Holdings LP, a legal entity that is registered to Mathias Partners, records show, paid $11.2 million for the land in 2017.

Skyline East is another example of how commercial development is starting to spread beyond traditional spots such as the Five Points district. The project would encompass 14.5 acres partly along Dickerson Pike, in the McFerrin Park neighborhood (not far from the latest concept from one of Nashville's highest-profile chefs), and across Interstate 24 from the massive River North mixed-use development site.

The land sits within a federal Opportunity Zone, areas that offer big tax breaks for real estate investors.

The proposal before Metro would involve buildings between six and 15 stories tall, which is permissible under Metro regulations. The plans suggest Skyline East could involve up to 1,400 residential units and as much as 500,000 square feet of other commercial space or parking.

The property is currently home to 212 apartments and townhomes, some of which involve Section 8 vouchers for low-income renters. A Salvation Army store sits adjacent to the project site.

The team behind Skyline East has retained Nashville's Smith Gee Studio to design the project.

“Riverchase Holdings LLC is excited to be part of the planning and revitalization of the Dickerson Pike corridor and East Nashville community," said Scott Morton, an associate at that firm, in an emailed statement on behalf of the group. "The 15-acre site is located at the 'gateway' to Dickerson Pike and is well positioned to set the tone for quality redevelopment on the corridor." -- May 3, 2019 Austin Business Journal article

Larkspur Capital Partners (Dallas, Texas) -- The company is building a apartment complex located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

 
Builders who have done a series of successful East Dallas projects are headed to north Oak Cliff with a new development. Larkspur Capital Partners is building an apartment community at 1100 N. Zang Blvd., near Lake Cliff Park. The five-story rental project at the intersection of Zang and Beckley Avenue will have 71 units. The building was designed by Dallas architect Omniplan. “Construction will start in May and take 18 months,” Larkspur Capital’s Carl Anderson said. “It will feature amenities including a pool, coworking space, a gym, a dog wash, a resident bicycle repair shop, a dedicated Uber loading zone and electric vehicle charging.” “Additionally, there will be live-work units that front Zang Boulevard,” Anderson said. “These units are double volume height spaces that feature a work area below with mezzanine bedroom space above.” He said the units are a response to tenant demand for work-at-home spaces.
 
“These will be some of the first true live-work units under the city’s new form-based zoning ordinance,” Anderson said. “Moreover, the project is in a Qualified Opportunity Zone and will be one of the first development projects in Dallas to take advantage of this compelling new program.” Larkspur Capital has built several successful East Dallas townhouse projects. The developer is also renovating the former Faulkner Tower office building in Lakewood. In addition, Larkspur has other projects in the works, including a 60-unit multifamily project on Henderson Avenue in East Dallas and a 250-unit, seven-story mixed-use project along the Santa Fe Trail on the eastern edge of Dallas’ Deep Ellum district. -- March 21, 2020 Dallas Morning News article

Harris Bay (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company is building a hotel in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

California developer Harris Bay plans to build a 112-room boutique hotel on a River Walk-adjacent property it bought in April, its co-founder said Monday.

The company purchased the 0.2-acre lot at 151 E. Travis St. - valued this year at more than $2 million - on April 29 from Florida-based Seaside Hospitality Corp. Last year, Seaside Hospitality backed out of plans to build a 100-room boutique hotel on the site.

Now, Harris Bay wants to take a crack at developing its own "lifestyle boutique hotel" there.

In addition to hotel rooms, the proposed eight-floor development will feature a rooftop bar, restaurant and retail, Harris Bay co-founder Jake Harris said in an email. Harris Bay is in negotiations with companies to manage and operate the hotel, Harris said.

Harris Bay considered a residential development on the property. But the site's small acreage, height limitations along the River Walk and lack of parking, along with rising construction costs and land prices, made the hotel a more financially viable option, Harris said.

The developer also noted that boutique hotels "are underrepresented in one of the top tourism cities of the world."

Harris Bay plans to break ground on the project, called the Artista, later this year, Harris said.

The California firm will likely get a sizable tax break, created by President Donald Trump's $1.5 trillion tax bill in 2017.

The site sits inside a federal "opportunity zone" that covers much of downtown, one of two dozen such zones in the San Antonio area.

The Republican tax bill and the U.S. Treasury Department established opportunity zones - areas with slow economic growth where investors can reap tax breaks on capital gains if they plug that capital into long-term investments.

The land's location in an opportunity zone "was a significant factor" in Harris Bay's decision to buy the site, Harris said.

Harris Bay formed an opportunity zone fund called IconicOZ Artista Fund and used it to buy the property. The firm took out a $2.2 million mortgage to purchase the land, property records show. -- May 21, 2019 San Antonio Express-News article

Baker Hotel and Spa (Weatherford, Texas) -- The hotel's designation in an Opportunity Zone helped spur a renovation project at the hotel:

If you were among those who thought renovation of the long-closed, deteriorating and often vandalized Baker Hotel would never happen - one of the project's development leaders was admittedly right there with you at times.

"Hell, I was a naysayer for a period of time," Laird Fairchild told the Mineral Wells Index in a special interview Tuesday inside the lobby of the hotel that by early Thursday afternoon should be in the hands of Baker Hotel Holdings LP.

...

"The resurrection of The Baker would not be possible without the overwhelming support of the citizens of Mineral Wells," said Patton, also in a press release. "From the start, they have been very vocal in their belief that this project would be a cornerstone in the redevelopment of downtown. The City government worked tirelessly with our team to put in place a public-private partnership that made sense for everyone. We also must thank Governor Abbott for designating this project and a majority of downtown Mineral Wells as an Opportunity Zone. That designation was the linchpin that helped pull all this together and make this long-term investment possible. This project is a substantial commitment that greatly enhances the renaissance of this wonderful city." -- June 20, 2019 The Weatherford Democrat article

 

Knight Aerospace (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company is relocating to an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

San Antonio-based Knight Aerospace is moving down the road to Port San Antonio, the redeveloped Kelly Air Force Base on the city's Southwest Side, and hiring more people.

The company, currently located at 1119 S. Acme Rd., manufactures medical modules for airplanes. The components serve as emergency rooms and intensive care units that can be quickly rolled into planes.

Knight also makes VIP units to transport high-profile passengers and seating systems, and provides upgrading and refurbishment services.

On ExpressNews.com: Tech event arena, co-working space envisioned for Port San Antonio

The company was being courted by cities inside and outside Texas, said Jim Perschbach, Port San Antonio's president and CEO. The port has a long-standing relationship with Knight, and the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation helped, he said.

The move is "another huge win for San Antonio, as we're retaining and growing an important player in one of our key industry sectors," said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, the foundation's CEO, in a statement.

Knight's history in San Antonio and the proximity to military and medical organizations prompted the company to stay, said president and CEO Bianca Rhodes. The company was founded in San Antonio in 1992.

Later this year, Knight will move into an 80,000-square-foot space at 3604 S.W. 36th St. at the Port, where it will have areas for fabrication, design, research and development and offices.

With several large contracts in the pipeline and more demand for its products, Knight is also looking to expand its workforce. The company has 57 employees and expects to have 100 at the port by the end of 2020.

On ExpressNews.com: San Antonio's aerospace industry has lost jobs but may be rebounding

The move gives Knight access to the port's industrial airport at Kelly Field, allowing the company to use the runway to have customers pick up products, Rhodes said. It also provides proximity to customers such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and StandardAero.

There are some tax and regulatory benefits to moving to the port. The real property owned by the port is not taxed, and Knight will be housed in a building owned by the Port, Perschbach said. Companies' personal property, such as their equipment and inventory, is taxable and they also pay sales and other taxes.

Knight is not seeking any city or county incentives, Rhodes said.

On ExpressNews.com: San Antonio lands Texas' first 'opportunity zone' investment under Trump tax bill

The campus is also a federally-designated "opportunity zone," which refers to economically disadvantaged areas where investors can put their funds in long-term investments in exchange for reduced or eliminated capital-gains tax burden.

In April, the U.S. Treasury Department named 24 census tracts in the San Antonio area as opportunity zones.

Knight is the first company at the port to specialize in their particular area, with the modules, Perschbach said. The products increase a plane's value, and the port wants to "offer nose to tail solutions," he added. -- May 15, 2019 San Antonio Express-News article

Indus Management Group (Houston, Texas) -- The management group is building an apartment complex that is located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Houston-based Indus Management Group purchased Mark VI, a 144-unit apartment complex at 5606 Bissonnet. JLL's Joey Rippel, Chris Young and Bailey Crowell marketed the property for the seller, AK Interests, and procured the buyer.

Located on four acres just west of Chimney Rock near Bellaire, the 1970s-era complex will be renovated and rebranded by the new owner. The units, of which 59 percent are unrenovated and 41 percent are partially renovated, average 887 square feet.

"We are excited to uplift another community in the area by introducing The Atrium at 5606, formerly known as Mark VI Apartments," Manu Gupta, managing director of Indus Management Group said in an announcement. "This will be our fourth acquisition in the submarket."

Mark VI is zoned to Bellaire High School. Amenities include a swimming pool, six landscaped courtyards, on-site laundry facilities and covered parking. The property is in a Qualified Opportunity Zone, meaning investors who make improvements can get tax benefits as part of a federal program designed to spur economic development. -- October 14, 2019 Houston Chronicle article

Americus OST LLC (Houston, Texas) -- The company is building a medical campus in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Former Houston Rockets player Hakeem Olajuwon and local real estate investor John Ballis have sold a 4.64-acre site near the Texas Medical Center to a local developer, according to a press release from Houston-based Transwestern.

Transwestern Commercial Services has been hired to advise the new owner on its plans to develop a mixed-use project at the site, 1990 Old Spanish Trail, per the release. TCS Vice President Robby Winston is providing advisory services for the new owner, an entity called Americus OST LLC. Houston developer Andrew Schatte is the principal of Americus OST.

John Ballis Jr. represented both the buyer and the seller in the land deal, which closed in March, according to Harris County records.

“The new owner is looking to create a mixed-use development that would complement the highly respected health care, educational and research institutions that are adjacent to the site,” Winston said in the release. “As one of the last undeveloped parcels in the Texas Medical Center, this site presents the unique opportunity to bring additional supportive capacity to this rapidly growing innovation district. Our property will enhance those larger master plans taking shape.”

Transwestern also is serving as development manager for the TMC3 project, which is scheduled to break ground by the end of the year and be complete in 2022. The Americus OST site is next to the 37-acre TMC3 site. The new TMC3 campus alone is expected to have a $5.2 billion impact on the city of Houston and create a projected 30,000 new jobs, the Houston Business Journal previously reported.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Texas Medical Center and member organizations in developing this property in keeping with the master plan of the TMC3,” Schatte said in the release.

The Americus OST site also is located in a designated Opportunity Zone, which makes it eligible for significantly reduced capital gains taxes if certain federal requirements are met. Click here to read HBJ’s cover story about Opportunity Zones. -- June 12, 2019 Houston Business Journal article

 

MAN Energy Solutions (Brookshire, Texas) -- The energy solutions company has opened its North American headquarters in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

MAN Energy Solutions has opened its North American headquarters in The Uplands at Twinwood, a 400-acre business park being developed in Brookshire, about 35 miles west of downtown Houston.

The Germany-based manufacturer is the first company to move into the new business park, at 1758 Twinwood Parkway, south of Interstate 10 near Woods Road. The company employs 140 workers at the building, which consolidates former operations in Houston and Deer Park.

MAN Energy Solutions manufactures engines for marine propulsion and power generation and turbomachinery for oil and gas, petrochemical and industrial applications.

Houston-based KDW designed and built the 137,434-square-foot headquarters facility, which is owned by Houston-based Welcome Group.

"We're certainly anticipating strong interest in Twinwood from other global companies looking to establish or expand their North American presence," Welcome Group Chief Executive Welcome Wilson Jr. said in an announcement. "We are pleased to add this project to our 4 million-square-foot portfolio of single-tenant industrial and office facilities."

The Uplands at Twinwood lies within a designated Opportunity Zone, a federal economic development tool where new investments that meet certain criteria may be eligible for tax breaks. -- May 31, 2019 Houston Chronicle article

Central Southwest Development LLC (Dallas, Texas) -- The company is building a storage unit in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

One of Dallas’ first Opportunity Zone developments will be a new self-storage center west of downtown Dallas.

Central Southwest Texas Development LLC is building the project on Lone Star Drive near Interstate 30 in West Dallas. The 141,950-square-foot self-storage center will be on a 2.4-acre site that is in one of the more than a dozen federally designated Dallas Opportunity Zones that qualify for special tax breaks.

New businesses and investments in the targeted census tracts get deferred capital gains and other beneficial tax treatment. -- November 13, 2019 Dallas Morning News article

Starwood Capital Group (Austin, Texas) -- The company is building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Starwood Capital Group, a global private investment firm focused on real estate and energy investments, has announced that a controlled affiliate has reached an agreement to acquire and develop a 342-unit garden-style multifamily project in East Austin, Texas, the company said.

Starwood expects to complete the Opportunity Zone development by Spring 2020.

East Austin is one of Austin's fastest growing submarkets and, with significant recent development driven by an influx of young professionals, has transformed into one of the region's most desirable neighborhoods. Centrally located at 500 US Highway 183 S., within close proximity to Austin's central business district (CBD), entertainment district and international airport, the development is one of the few sites in East Austin that can accommodate garden-style apartments, which mimic single-family living and are in high demand from prospective tenants.

The project's amenities will include a club house, fitness center and pool with cabanas, and units will feature quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances. -- June 28, 2019 Starwood Capital Group press release

Americus OST LLC (Houston, Texas) -- The company is building a medical campus in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Former Houston Rockets player Hakeem Olajuwon and local real estate investor John Ballis have sold a 4.64-acre site near the Texas Medical Center to a local developer, according to a press release from Houston-based Transwestern.

Transwestern Commercial Services has been hired to advise the new owner on its plans to develop a mixed-use project at the site, 1990 Old Spanish Trail, per the release. TCS Vice President Robby Winston is providing advisory services for the new owner, an entity called Americus OST LLC. Houston developer Andrew Schatte is the principal of Americus OST.

John Ballis Jr. represented both the buyer and the seller in the land deal, which closed in March, according to Harris County records.

“The new owner is looking to create a mixed-use development that would complement the highly respected health care, educational and research institutions that are adjacent to the site,” Winston said in the release. “As one of the last undeveloped parcels in the Texas Medical Center, this site presents the unique opportunity to bring additional supportive capacity to this rapidly growing innovation district. Our property will enhance those larger master plans taking shape.”

Transwestern also is serving as development manager for the TMC3 project, which is scheduled to break ground by the end of the year and be complete in 2022. The Americus OST site is next to the 37-acre TMC3 site. The new TMC3 campus alone is expected to have a $5.2 billion impact on the city of Houston and create a projected 30,000 new jobs, the Houston Business Journal previously reported.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to work with the Texas Medical Center and member organizations in developing this property in keeping with the master plan of the TMC3,” Schatte said in the release.

The Americus OST site also is located in a designated Opportunity Zone, which makes it eligible for significantly reduced capital gains taxes if certain federal requirements are met. Click here to read HBJ’s cover story about Opportunity Zones. -- June 12, 2019 Houston Business Journal article

Dripping Springs Distilling (Dripping Springs, Texas) -- The owner says he was able to use savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to hire new employees, invest in new equipment, and break ground on a new visitors center:

These tax savings have enabled Texas craft distillers to expand our businesses by hiring more employees, investing in new equipment and purchasing more from Texas agricultural suppliers. At Dripping Springs Distilling, which I co-founded, in addition to creating new jobs, we were able to break ground on a new visitors center, where we hosted 15,000 visitors last year.

 Gary Kelleher is co-founder of Dripping Springs Distilling. -- Nov. 29, 2019 My San Antonio

School of Science and Technology — Alamo campus (San Antonio, Texas) -- The charter school is expanding with a new location in Opportunity Zones created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Down the road will soon be a new School of Science and Technology — Alamo campus, according to Casey Development Ltd. The company and its construction arm Baxter Contracting LLC have broken ground on a 67,000-square-foot facility at the corner of North Weidner Road and Crosswinds Way, which will replace the current campus at 12200 Crownpoint Drive. Upon move-in, the campus will accommodate students from kindergarten through eighth grade and will eventually expand to high school. At full capacity, the campus will hold up to 700 students. The current campus holds 400.

Nancy Thompson, director of community outreach and communications for the School of Science and Technology, expects the new campus to be ready by Thanksgiving break of this year or no later than winter break. San Antonio is home to four of its campuses. Over the next five years, the school plans to add four more local campuses and 10 more statewide.

The project represents Casey Development's first venture into Opportunity Zone development. The company expects to continue developing within the Northeast San Antonio Opportunity Zone, with multifamily, retail and self-storage projects. -- June 12, 2019 San Antonio Business Journal article

Saxum Real Estate (Austin, Texas) -- A mixed use development is being built in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A more than 60,000 square foot mixed-use development is under construction at 1141 Shady Lane and expected to be completed sometime in mid- to late 2020. 

The development is one of many going up in East Austin just off of Airport Boulevard. 

Some people who live near Shady Lane say the neighborhoods in the area have drastically changed over the years. 

...

This project sits in one of Austin's opportunity zones, which are part of a federal tax incentive provision that encourages investors to re-invest capital gains into Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds. The Opportunity Zone tax provision is not administered by the City of Austin. 

“I believe it actually benefits a whole spectrum of individuals," said Anthony Rinaldi, the founder and managing principal of Saxum Real Estate. -- Nov. 3, 2019 KVUE article

 

Studio LP (Austin, Texas) -- Developers are building office space in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A year after it was first discussed publicly, a 62,000-square-foot creative office in East Austin is close to breaking ground — and the developers claim it will be the city’s first ground-up development to use a qualified opportunity fund, a widely watched but little understood federal program designed to spur investment in low-income areas.

...

Construction on the office building at 1141 Shady Lane in the ThinkEast master-planned development is set to start in July.

A modern, three-story building designed by architecture firm Bercy Chen Studio LP will be the focal point of the development from Austin-based PlaceMKR and New Jersey-based Saxum Real Estate.

A 1920s-era house reminiscent of the bungalows on Rainey Street sits next to the office building and will be preserved — and then renovated and turned into a restaurant. There will also be a 9,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard around the property, according to brokerage firm Newmark Knight Frank, who represented the buyers in the transaction.

Newmark Knight Frank Senior Managing Director Jesse Weber and Director Joshua LaFico will exclusively lease the new development.

“This is an extremely beneficial project for the progress of East Austin,” Weber said.

Opportunity zones were designed to spur investment in low-income census tracts. They also offer significant tax cuts and deferrals for those who invest in projects in the zones — up to 15 percent of capital gains invested can be exempted from taxes, if investors keep their money in the zone for at least seven years. Read more about the rules here.

It’s not just the real estate investors that will receive tax benefits from investing in 1141 Shady Lane. Tenants of the new building, especially startups raising capital, could be eligible for benefits as long as most of their assets and gross income is derived from that location in the opportunity zone — and if their backers’ investment comes from capital gains. -- June 20, 2019 Austin Business Journal article

River City Capital Partners (Austin, Texas) -- The company is building apartments and commercial developments in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

The opportunity zone specialists at River City Capital Partners LLC have closed on a new acquisition in Northeast Austin near major employers and budding neighborhoods.

The 69-acre opportunity zone tract is located on undeveloped land at the intersection of East Yager Lane and East Parmer Lane, just a stone's throw away from Samsung Austin Semiconductor's massive campus. The parcel is also near Shops at Tech Ridge, a 519,354-square-foot shopping center home to major retail tenants, while Reger Holdings LLC is planning a major mixed-use development of its own in close proximity. It's also near the growing Parmer Austin business park that's already home to companies such as General Motors and Facebook.

River City Capital Partners navigated the COVID-19 pandemic to close on the property in early April. The firm declined to disclose the purchase price, but the property was valued for tax purposes at $4,085,893 in 2020, according to Travis Central Appraisal District.

"It’s an opportunity zone tract that is still in close proximity to major employers," said Peter Kehle, CEO of River City Capital Partners. "That’s kind of the main driver for us in what we were looking for, and that’s what we have there.”

Kehle declined to say who River City Capital Partners bought the site from, though TCAD's website still lists the owner as a trustee for J. Tim Brown.

River City Capital Partners plans to develop three distinct elements on the site: multifamily market rate apartments, income-restricted units and a separate commercial development.

Because the site is located in a federally designated opportunity zone — part of an investment program created by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — investors in the development can qualify for a variety of perks. That includes significant tax cuts and delays for those who funnel money into opportunity zone projects; up to 15 percent of capital gains invested can be exempted from taxes, if investors keep it in the zone for at least seven years.

Kehle and River City Capital Partners President Cory Older have become something of opportunity zone experts since realizing that a property they were developing in East Riverside was located on the edge of federal opportunity zone. A mixed-use project called Urban East is currently in the works there; it's set to feature 111,000 square feet of office space, about 20,000 square feet of retail and 384 apartments units spread across two buildings.

Urban East was supposed to break ground in early 2020 but that has been delayed due to COVID-19, Kehle said.

Closing a deal during a pandemic

It wasn’t easy for River City Capital Partners to close on its latest opportunity zone development site.

The effort proved cumbersome as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, with extra steps and safety precautions shoehorned into the process at nearly every step.

“Fortunately for the real estate industry, title companies were from the very beginning considered an essential business," Kehle said. “Now, getting to the title company, what would normally be a one-day process turned into a four or five-day process.”

Part of the problem was getting together at one time all of the key players: the buyer, the buyer’s attorney, the seller, the seller’s attorney and the title company. Communications were naturally slowed as all parties acclimated themselves to operating out of home offices.

The process only grew more surreal once it was time to close the deal; Kehle recalls that visitors were allowed inside the title company, Stewart Title of Austin, by appointment only. Even then, the doors were locked upon arrival. Someone came out and wiped down the exterior door handles before anyone entered.

"At the closing table it was made a point to say, 'Here's a fresh pen,'" Kehle recalled.

Kehle described the process as a hectic experience.

“You’ve got minimal staff, but you’ve still got all these deals that are moving forward, and less staff to do the work," he said. "So they were really putting in some hours.”

Moving forward, the tract will have to subdivided and a traffic impact analysis will have to be conducted. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Kehle estimated it will be at least a year before any construction begins at the site.

The impact of COVID-19

Kehle predicted that real estate will become an increasingly popular investment vehicle as the COVID-19 drags on.

“Generally, people are looking at the money printing that is going to be going on out of the Fed. There will be schools of thought out there that it will eventually become inflationary," Kehle said. "That same school of thought leads people to real estate investing.”

“Money was looking for a reason to get out of the market … and this was a reason," Kehle said.

Because opportunity zone regulations require capital gains investments to unlock the full tax benefits, there is reason to believe money pulled out of the markets could find itself in opportunity zone projects.

“The road is leading to an increased interest in real estate investing," Kehle said. “Yes, that could end up finding its way into these opportunity zone projects.”

Of course, River City Capital Partners isn't the only real estate firm looking to take advantage of opportunity zone benefits. Kehle knows he will continue facing competition for those investments.

“There’s been a lot of money flowing into Opportunity Zone funds, and we try to know who those pools of money are," he said. "But it seems on a regular basis we keep coming across pools of money that we didn’t know were even there. Their names aren’t in neon lights.” -- April 20, 2020 Austin Business Journal article

CenterPoint Energy (Houston, Texas) - The utility is passing on tax savings to customers:

CenterPoint Energy, the largest natural gas utility in the state with more than 400,000 customers, has proposed to reduce its rates by $19.2 million beginning in October.

CenterPoint filed the request with the Arkansas Public Service Commission on Friday in response to an order by the commission to reduce rates as a result of the federal tax law change passed in December. Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that reduced the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

If the commission approves the lowered rate, Houston-based CenterPoint's rates would drop 9.5 percent on bills from October to January and 7.3 percent in January. For a customer with a bill of $100, it would fall to $90.50 under the first scenario and to $92.70 under the second scenario.

"Tax reform is a win for customers and reduced costs are being returned to them through various mechanisms or rate proceedings within each of our operating jurisdictions," said Alicia Dixon, CenterPoint's spokesman. – August 28, 2018, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette article excerpt

Cannon Inc. (Dallas, Texas) – The company was able to create new jobs and invest in new equipment because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

But many small businesses who file as pass-through entities will qualify for at least some additional deduction. The change will help businesses build a cushion to weather slow periods and financial crises, said Greg Brown, the president of Cannon, Inc., a Texas wholesale distributor for storage equipment like warehouse shelving and conveyor belts. 

“It just seems like you never quite have enough money in the bank for a downturn,” said Brown, who employs 30 people, five of them hired in the past six months. The tax law “allows me to keep a little more capital, to put some money in the bank for me for a rainy day, to bonus my employees, [and] to buy more capital equipment that I may need.”– Feb. 27, 2018, PBS News article.

Beck Manufacturing International (Converse, Texas) - Building a new facility, hiring new employees, doubling company’s capacity

Tom Beck, vice president of operations at Beck Manufacturing International in Converse, said he expects his company, which builds cement mixer bodies that mount on trucks, will see a reduction of close to 10 percent in its tax rate.

The savings will flow into Beck Manufacturing International investments, including an under construction manufacturing site that will double his company’s capacity in Converse, he said.

“That money that we hang on to … that’s absolutely going directly toward the new facility that will employ more people,” Beck said.  - February 7, 2018, San Antonio Express-News article excerpt

Clearday Inc. (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company acquired a medical building property, which they plan to renovate and reopen, which was made possible because of the Opportunity Zone program:

"Clearday, Inc., a leading innovator in longevity care and wellness services, has made the first Opportunity Zone (OZ) investment in San Antonio District 10. With the investment, totaling a minimum of $3.2 million, Clearday has acquired and is transforming the medical building property located at 8800 Village Drive, adjacent to the Northeast Baptist Hospital campus. Upon completion of the building renovation, Clearday will consolidate its corporate headquarters – as well as those of its Memory Care America subsidiary and other affiliate businesses – at the site." -- February 21, 2020 Business Wire article

Rebecca Creek Distillery (San Antonio, Texas) -- The company was able to use savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to hire more people and expand: 

Rebecca Creek Distillery LLC’s Steve Ison said that if Congress fails to extend that tax relief, it will severely strain the craft beverage industry and hamper his company’s ability to continue expanding. 

“It saved us a million bucks,” Ison said. “With that money, we were able to expand and hire more people.”

Backers of the act note that it reduces taxes on distilled spirits, for example, by more than $10 for the first 100,000 gallons produced or imported annually. There is less of a reduction for additional gallons produced. -- Dec. 3, 2019 San Antonio Business Journal

Garrison Brothers Distillery (Hye, Texas) – The brewery was able to hire more employees and increase their production because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Starting a liquor distillery in the United States is expensive. Take it from Dan Garrison, who runs Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, roughly an hour west of Austin. He estimated in November that it costs about $7 million to get a whiskey distillery up and running — between stills, fermentation tanks, grain silos and other operational costs.

Garrison said Garrison Brothers paid an excise tax of $13.50 per proof gallon from the time he started his business in 2006 until 2017, when the tax break took effect. After that the tax was reduced to $2.70 per proof gallon — 80% less — which Garrison said put spirits on par with what wine and beer producers were paying.

As a result, “I could do things I could only dream of doing,” Garrison said.

Since 2017, Garrison Brothers has grown from 11 to 45 employees and tripled the amount of cases it produces annually, projecting to top 9,000 this year. – Dec. 17, 2019, Austin Business Journal.

Kanga Roof (Austin, Texas) – Tripled their revenue and doubled their payroll.

“Round Rock roofing business co-owner Stacie Feller credited Trump with boosting businesses’ confidence.

“She and her husband Scott’s Kanga Roof Austin has has more than tripled its revenue and more than doubled its payroll, to 24 employees, since January 2017, she said.”

“I’m very proud to say with some of the tax cuts, some of the things, this year, 2019, was the first year we were able to offer health insurance and a simple [Individual Retirement Account] plan for our employees,” she said. “We just couldn’t afford it before.” -- Aug. 29, 2019 Dallas Morning News article

Leak Sealers (Lumberton, Texas) – Bonuses to its 100 employees:

Female-owned engineering company Leak Sealers says it's handing out bonuses to its 100 employees, joining major retailers like Lowe's and Walmart Inc. that are investing in workers after Congress approved a tax cut that will help businesses. – 

"We've been incredibly successful, and I've never seen anything like it, the way business has been roaring," said CEO Henry Adams in a statement. "We're appreciative and we want to share it with our employees."

Leak Sealers, with company offices in Lumberton, Nederland and Lake Charles, is a "woman-owned certified engineering company and a leader in the on-stream environmental repair industry," according to the statement. -- Feb. 8 2018, The Beaumont Enterprise article excerpt

Groomer’s Seafood (Corpus Christi, Texas) – Expansion of distribution facilities.

Group 1 Automotive (Houston, Texas) – $500 cash bonuses for non-management dealership employees and operational support staff in the United States:

Group 1 Automotive, Inc. (NYSE: GPI), ("Group 1" or the "Company"), an international, Fortune 500 automotive retailer, today announced a $500 cash bonus for non-management dealership employees and operational support staff in the U.S. The Company owns and operates 115 dealerships nationwide.

"As we were in the process of reviewing the opportunities the new tax reform law creates for us to better our business, we decided the best investment we could make was in the people serving as the face of our company every day,"said Earl J. Hesterberg, Group 1's president and chief executive officer.  "For almost 13 years, I have watched our loyal dealership operating and support teams move cars in the 100-degree heat of the Texas summer, clean snow off of new car inventory in a 10-degree Boston winter, and spend long days in front of a computer screen processing documents and communicating with our customers. These people are the heart of the Company. They generate our profits and my management team and I feel that the financial benefit of the new tax law creates an opportunity for us to say thank you to these key teammates."

 This bonus to qualified employees will be paid on March 1, 2018.

Group 1 is assessing the full impact of the tax reform law on the company's operations. Additional details will be shared when the company releases 2017 fourth quarter and full year earnings on February 8, 2018. – Jan. 12, 2018 Group 1 Automotive press release

Charlie Bravo Aviation (Georgetown, Texas) - $1,000 bonuses for all six employees.

JSW Steel USA (Baytown, Texas) – Committed to $1 billion of new investment in the United States as well as hiring or re-skilling 500 workers.

“Today JSW USA CEO John Hritz and Ryan Brindley, an employee at their Mingo Junction, Ohio, state-of-the-art steel mill met with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Ivanka Trump, and other cabinet officials and governors at the White House to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Pledge to American Workers.” 

“Hritz, who signed the Pledge in January committing to $1 billion of new investment in the United States and the hiring or re-skilling of 500 workers, visited with the President to show his support for the employees of JSW USA and to ensure Administration policies continue supporting a strong steel industry in America.”

“JSW is the largest steel producer in India, and because of President Trump’s bold leadership on tax reform, a smart regulatory agenda, and investing in American workers, it was a no-brainer to invest in the US,” said Hritz. “The steel industry was dying. Since President Trump took office, we’ve made it our mission not only to build the largest, cleanest, most eco-friendly, state-of-the-art electric arc furnace in North America, but also to invest the time and training into our employees so they, too, are state-of-the-art. Our workers come first and foremost and we are proud to provide high wages and a great work-life balance, mainly due to the current positive economic climate.” – July 25, 2019 Business Wire press release

Rush Enterprises (New Braunfels, Texas) – $1,000 bonuses for all 6,600 employees:

“We believe tax reform to be beneficial for Rush Enterprises, our communities and overall economic growth,” said W.M. “Rusty” Rush, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Rush Enterprises, Inc.“We are happy to take this step to invest in our employees and honor their important contributions to our company with this $1,000 gift,” he added.

The $1,000 discretionary bonus will be paid to all Rush Enterprises, Inc. employees once the President signs the tax reform bill into law. – Rush Enterprises, Inc.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (Houston, Texas) - $1,600 bonuses for employees.

WIN-911 (Austin, Texas) — software company hiring new employees:

Robert Brooker, chairman of WIN-911, says the Austin-based software company will add five or six workers to its U.S. staff of 35 this year, up from the two or three it was planning to bring on. “It’s allowing us to … hire more people,” he says of the tax benefits.April 26, 2018 USA Today article excerpt

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 32,435 Texas employeesNationwide, $1,000 bonuses for 200,000 employees and a $1 billion increase in capital expenditures:

Today, Congress approved legislation representing the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation. The President is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

Once tax reform is signed into law, AT&T* plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States in 2018 and pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers. If the President signs the bill before Christmas, employees will receive the bonus over the holidays.

“Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

Since 2012, AT&T has invested more in the United States than any other public company. Every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 jobs for American workers, research shows. -- Dec. 20, 2017 AT&T Inc. press release 

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, Texas) –  $2,000 bonuses to approximately 34,000 employees:

Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WM) announced today that, in light of the meaningful contributions of its employees and the new U.S. corporate tax structure, the company will distribute US $2,000 in 2018 to every North American employee not on a bonus or sales incentive plan; that includes hourly and other employees.

“We are about to get a tax benefit as our U.S. corporate tax rate goes from 35 percent to 21 percent. In considering how to best spend that, we wanted to find a way to help grow our economy, which in turn, will help grow our business, and give some of the tax savings back to those hardworking employees who do not get the opportunity to participate in our salaried incentive plans,” said Jim Fish, president and chief executive officer, Waste Management.

“So, we are offering each North American hourly full-time employee and salaried employee who does not participate in any sales incentive or bonus plan during 2018, a cash bonus of US $2,000 to show our appreciation to so many of our valued employees while growing our business and returning a good portion of the tax savings directly to the overall economy,” he continued.

Approximately 34,000 qualified Waste Management employees could receive this special bonus. – Jan. 10 2018, Waste Management, Inc. press release

Ennis, Inc. (Midlothian, Texas) -- $500 bonuses to 2,200 non-management employees:

Keith S. Walters, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ennis, Inc. (NYSE: EBF), a manufacturer of business forms and other business products headquartered in Midlothian, Texas, announced today that in conjunction with the signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the Ennis Board of Directors has approved a special one-time bonus to more than 2,200 non-management employees in the amount of $500.00 each. This payment will take place with the first payroll period in January 2018.

In addition, in response to this landmark act the Board of Directors has declared a special one-time cash dividend of $0.10 a share of our common stock. The dividend will be paid on February 9, 2018 to shareholders of record on January 12, 2018.

“Congress and the President by their passage of this historic law have improved the prospects of the American worker and American company success. We recognize this historic opportunity for our Company, our employees and our shareholders,” said Mr. Walters. – Dec. 22, 2017 Ennis, Inc. press release

Quadvest (Tomball, Texas) – the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

"On behalf of the approximately 30,000 customers Quadvest Utility serves in Southeast Texas, we would like to thank you for your integral part in the development and ultimate passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of FY2017. The passage of this key piece of legislation has allowed Quadvest to proactively reduce our customers' base water and sewer fees by 26% or almost $90 per year/family." – Simon Sequeira, President of Quadvest

Entergy Texas (The Woodlands, Texas) – the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

`Entergy Texas is also passing substantial savings from federal tax reform directly to customers. These tax savings, along with investments in infrastructure to reduce outages and improve service, will result in more reliable and affordable energy to customers.

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the federal corporate tax rate was lowered, and Entergy Texas will flow back more than $200 million to customers over the next two years. This sum represents funds that Entergy Texas had collected from customers according to IRS rules to pay future taxes at the higher tax rate that is no longer in effect. Additionally, Entergy Texas’ new rates will reflect the lower tax rate going forward. - May 15, 2018, Entergy Texas Press Release excerpt

 

Russell Marine LLC (Channelview, Texas) - Increased pay by an average of 10 percent, gave $900,000 in bonuses, purchased $1.8 million in new equipment, green lighted a new company headquarters:

This Houston-based marine construction business, has already been able to purchase new equipment because of tax reform and expects to see record-setting revenue of about $90 million following new tax law.

“This will be our best year ever” – Russell Inserra, Owner

Bonuses: totaling $900,000

Pay Raises: 10 percent raise on average

New Equipment: $1.8 million, 440-ton crane, the largest floating rotating crane in Texas  - May 7, 2018, Woodlands Online article excerpt

Nexstar Media Group, Inc. (Irving, Texas) -- Bonuses of $500 for full-time employees, $250 for part-time employees; increased 401(k) contributions:

As announced by Perry Sook during our Town Hall broadcast, the new corporate tax rate will produce a financial benefit for Nexstar, and the Company wants to extend that benefit to our employees via a one-time bonus and an increase to the 401k plan company match. Here are the details for those benefits.

A one-time special bonus will be issued to all employees actively employed by the Company as of March 1, 2018. The amount of the bonus is $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees. Bonuses will be paid in the first pay period of March and will be subject to applicable taxes.

Employees ranked at the Vice President level or above are not eligible for the bonus.

Effective April 1, 2018, the Company match for 401k contributions will be increased from 25% to 50% of the first 6% of contributions. -- Jan. 17, 2018 note to Nexstar employees

American Airlines (Ft. Worth, Texas) -- $1,000 bonuses for every employee (excluding officers). The bonuses will total $130 million. AA had 127,600 employees as of Sept. 2017.

“Recent tax reform has received much publicity. While the company does not yet pay cash taxes due to our enormous losses in the past, there is no doubt that our country’s new tax structure will have positive long-term benefits for American. We will be able to invest even more in aircraft and facilities, and we will be able to do so with even greater confidence about the future. As we analyze those potential future benefits, our leadership team, backed by our Board of Directors, considered how a portion of that positive impact might be directly shared with the very people who produce the profits at American—all of you. 

We are pleased to announce that in light of this new tax structure and in recognition of our outstanding team members, American will distribute $1,000 to each team member (excluding Officers) at our mainline and wholly owned regional carriers. These distributions will total approximately $130 million and will be made in the first quarter of 2018.” – Jan. 2, 2018 American Airlines press release

Southwest Airlines (Dallas, Texas) -- $1,000 bonuses for all 55,000 employees; $5 million additional charitable donations:

The Southwest Board of Directors authorized a bonus to all Southwest Airlines Employees to celebrate the recent passage of the tax reform legislation. All Fulltime and Parttime Southwest Employees employed with Southwest on Dec. 31, 2017, will receive a $1,000 cash bonus on Jan. 8, 2018.

"We applaud Congress and the President for taking this action to pass legislation, which will result in meaningful corporate income tax reform for the transportation sector in general, and for Southwest Airlines, in particular," said Southwest's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly. "We are excited about the savings and additional  capital, which we intend to put to work in several forms—to reward our hard- working Employees, to reinvest in our business, to reward our Shareholders, and to keep our costs and fares low for our Customers." – Jan. 2 2018, Southwest Airlines press release

Insperity (Houston, Texas) – Tax reform bonuses totaling $17 million. $1,000 - $4,000 bonuses for each employee, based on length of service.

The good news was announced to employees via internal message from CEO Paul Sarvadi. ATR obtained the message, which is reproduced below. A company press release confirming the details can be found here.

To all Insperity Employees,

In December Congress passed a tax reform bill which among other changes, lowered the tax rate for corporations. Insperity is one of those corporations which will benefit accordingly. This change leaves more of our hard earned dollars available after tax to invest in our business as we see fit. We believe all constituencies should benefit from this change including our amazing employees.

Therefore, as was communicated with this morning’s news release we will be paying a one-time bonus as a result of the U.S. tax reform act. We plan for this bonus to be paid on Wednesday February 14, 2018. This bonus is intended for

 ·full-time employees in grades 14 and below with hire dates 9/30/2017 or before and eligible to receive the 2017 AP payout and eligible to participate in the 2015 AIP Program, and

 ·full-time employees in grades 14 and below with hire dates, 10/01/2017 to 02/07/2018 and are eligible to participate in the 2018 AIP Program, and

·Business Performance Advisors and Business Performance Consultants with hire dates 02/02/2018 or before

Below is the overview for the bonus payout

Hire Date                                        Payout

12/31/2015 or before                      $4,000

01/01/2016 to 12/31/2016              $3,000

05/01/2016 to 09/30/2017              $2,000

10/01/2017 to 02/07/2018              $1,000

The tax reform bonus payments will be in addition to the normal AIP program and disbursed similar to your regular paycheck.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication and let’s keep our strong performance going!

PJS

Allsup’s Convenience Stores, Inc. (198 stores in Texas) -- $1,000 bonuses:

Workers were feeling so good at a Santa Fe Allsup’s convenience store Thursday that you might have thought it was raining cash. And it almost was.

One-time cash bonuses of $1,000 had appeared that morning by direct deposit in the bank accounts of all full-time, non-executive Allsup’s employees who have been with the company at least one full calendar year.

Cashier Cesia Villatoro, who works at the Allsup’s store at 305 N. Guadalupe St., said she was happy with the bonus. Then she amended that to “very happy.”

“I’m going to help my family,” Villatoro said.

Owners of the Clovis-based company said in a news release that the windfall was “a result of the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December 2017” — a massive Republican tax overhaul pushed by President Donald Trump.

“The new tax reform legislation provides tax cuts for individuals and companies and should result in positive economic growth,” Allsup’s said.

The company operates 317 stores in New Mexico, West Texas and Oklahoma and employs 3,200 full-time and part-time employees. It did not say how many of its employees received a bonus this week.

Velia Bojorquez, manager of the North Guadalupe Street store, said the company had mentioned the bonuses would be coming but didn’t give an exact date of when workers could expect them. “It’s too good to be true,” she said. “We were all surprised. Where did this money come from?”

Bojorquez said she plans to use the extra infusion of cash to pay some bills. “It’s going to be a big help.”

Cashier Maria Rosado was equally enthused. “I really need it,” she said of the cash disbursement. “I’m going to help my family and pay some bills.” – March 15, 2018 Santa Fe New Mexican

Cadence Bancorporation (Houston, Texas) – Base wage raised to $15 per hour; increased company 401(k) contributions; new employee stock purchase plan; merit pool increase; enhanced employee benefits:

In an announcement to its employees, the company shared it will introduce the following changes effective April 1, 2018:

  • An increase in the company’s matching 401k contribution
  • An increase in the company’s contribution to employee healthcare costs
  • A pay increase for non-exempt, non-commissioned associates to a base wage of no less than $15 an hour
  • A merit pool increase for eligible associates

In addition, Cadence executives announced an employee stock purchase plan with a 15% discount, pending approval by Cadence Bancorporation shareholders.

“Our employees deliver exceptional service and value to our clients every day, and we want to reward them for their dedication,” said Paul B. Murphy, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Cadence Bancorporation. “Investing in our employees allows us to attract and retain top talent, which directly correlates to sound operating and financial performance and a better return for our shareholders.” – February 14, 2018, Cadence Bancorporation press release excerpt

Apple (Apple store locations in El Paso, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Friendswood, Frisco, Houston, Plano, San Antonio, Southlake, Sugar Land, and The Woodlands) - $2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; Nationwide, $30 billion in additional capital expenditures over five years; 20,000 new employees will be hired; increased support of coding education and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; increased support for U.S. manufacturing.

El Paso Electric Company (El Paso, Texas) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:

El Paso Electric (EPE) was one of the first utilities in the state of Texas to address and identify a mechanism to refund Texas customers due to the reduction in the federal income tax rate.

On December 14, 2017, the unopposed settlement approved by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) included a provision to refund EPE’s Texas customers for the reduction in the federal income tax rate.

EPE is currently calculating the changes and impacts of the new tax law to determine the amount of the refund to be filed in mid-April.  EPE expects Texas customers will begin to see the refund as a credit on their bills by mid-year 2018 following PUCT approval of its refund filing. – Jan. 23 2018, El Paso Electric Company press release

Oncor Electric Delivery (Dallas, Texas) – The utility is passing along tax savings to customers:

The company delivering electricity to most North Texans would likely save millions from    the new corporate tax rate cut. But that entire windfall is expected to go back to consumers.

That's the result of a recently completed rate case where the state's largest regulated        utility agreed to return all tax cut benefits to its customers.

The $1.5-trillion tax overhaul hadn't been completed when Oncor's rate negotiation          with the regulator was settled. And the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates the operations of electricity-distribution companies like Oncor, made sure to cover the possibility of a tax cut. 

"Oncor will work with the PUCT to determine the best way to distribute those savings        back to customers," said spokesman Geoff Bailey via email. "In short, we are capturing    these tax savings for future refunds to our customers." – Jan. 16 2018, Dallas Morning News article excerpt

Happy State Bank (Happy, Texas) -- base wage raised; salary increases; bonuses; increased retirement contributions:

In its board meeting yesterday, January 23, the Board of Directors of Happy State Bank voted unanimously for a significant wage and benefit increase for employees of the company as a direct result of the new tax reform legislation.  The announcement was made by Board Chairman and CEO, J. Pat Hickman.    
The wage increases directly impact over 600 of the bank’s 700+ employees.

The highlights of the new program are: 

  • Happy State Bank has a new starting minimum wage of $13.50 per hour…increasing to $14.00 after a 90-day probationary period. 
  • Present employees currently earning less than $14.00 per hour will be increased to this amount immediately.
  • Employees currently earning between $14.00 and $17.50 hourly will receive an approximate $0.50 hourly wage increase.  
  • Salaried employees making less than $18 hourly will receive a $1,000 annual increase. 
  • Full-time employees making up to $100,000 (and not in the above categories) will receive a one-time $1,000 bonus or $500 bonus if part-time. 
  • The KSOP Retirement Plan dollar-for-dollar company match will increase from 6% to 7%, which benefits every employee that participates to that level. 

“Our board is really excited to pass a major portion of our bank’s tax benefit over to our employees. For many of our employees, the raise will be life-changing.  All told, these increases will impact 80% of our 700+ employees.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  Obviously, we’re all pretty happy around here,” stated Hickman. -- Jan. 24 2018, MyHighPlains.com article excerpt

Rio Bank (McAllen, Texas) — $1,000 bonuses for each of the 108 employees:

“Our Board approved the payment $1,000 to each of our 108 employees. That is everyone from the janitor on up. Our employees do not think this check is ‘crumbs’ like Nancy Pelosi called it and they sure do not think it is insulting like she stated that it was.” — Ford Sasser, President & CEO, Rio Bank

FirstCapital Bank of Texas (Midland, Texas) -- $500 bonuses for 197 employees.

First National Bank (Spearman, Texas) -- $1,000 bonuses for its 44 employees.

Amarillo National Bank (Amarillo, Texas) – $1,000 salary increases for over 300 employees:

Christmas came early for more than 300 employees at Amarillo National Bank when they found out they'd be getting a $1,000 pay raise.  

The bosses at ANB are saying the pay increase is because of the GOP's tax reform bill.

The raises are the highest salary and wage increases in the bank's history.

313 of the bank's 600 full-time, non-salaried employees will get an immediate raise of $1,000. 

ANB says they also plan on investing another $2.5 million into its downtown properties.

Executive Vice President William Ware says the bank will be saving a ton of money with the new tax bill so they're investing those savings back into their most valuable asset, their employees. 

Executive Vice President William Ware said, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we know with the savings from the tax reform bill, we want to reinvest that back into our bank and the first place we are going to put it is into our employees. That's our most important asset and we feel like that's a great thing to do." 

ANB has 18 branches in Amarillo, Canyon, Borger and Lubbock. – Dec. 21, 2017 MyHighPlains.com article excerpt

Comerica Bank (Dallas, Texas) -- $1,000 to 4,500 non-officer employees; base wage increase to $15 per hour:

“This increase in minimum wage and one-time bonus are made possible by the tax reform bill that was passed by the U.S. Congress, then signed by the President on Dec. 22, 2017.” –  Dec. 29, 2017 Comerica Bank press release

Texas Capital Bank (Dallas, Texas) – $1,000 bonuses for 900 employees:

“The rewritten tax code cuts the marginal tax rate, and that can be significantly beneficial to earnings and our stockholders, because we believe we have among the highest marginal and effective federal tax rates in the banking sector. The tax changes also will be very beneficial to our customers,” [Texas Capital Bank President and CEO Keith] Cargill said. – Texas Capital Bank press release

Thompson Graphics (Carrollton, Texas) – Invested in $625,000 worth of new equipment, and hired more employees.

“Event host Bob Thomas, owner of Thomas Graphics, which for a quarter-century has printed mail and campaign material for leading Texas Republicans, said accelerated depreciation schedules in Trump’s tax cut bill allowed him to buy $625,000 worth of new equipment last year.”

“Thomas Graphics hired three new employees because of the expansion. It is looking for two more, he said. Trump’s deregulation policies also are having a “trickle-down” effect that helps small entrepreneurs, Thomas said.” -- Aug. 29, 2019 Dallas Morning News article

 

STERIS Corp. (Texas locations in El Paso, Grand Prairie, Houston, and Keller) -- $1,000 bonuses totaling $7 million for non-executive U.S. -based employees:

"Like many companies, the recent tax reform in the U.S. will result in significant additional earnings for STERIS to strategically grow our business and return value to Customers, employees and shareholders.  One of our first actions on that front will be a one-time special discretionary bonus of $1,000 to all U.S. employees other than senior executives." -- Feb. 7, 2018 STERIS plc press release

Webco Industries Inc. (Orange, Texas) – Up to $2,000 bonuses:

Webco says each employee was given $1,000 if they've been there for a year or more. Employees who have been there for a significant amount of time, were given $2,000.

Webco says they had more than a million dollars total to distribute to their employees, many of whom are in Sand Springs.

"The tax cuts and jobs act reduced corp tax rates, so that produced a significant amount of savings this year for Webco as our corporate tax bill was reduced," said Mike Howard with Webco Industries.

These were one-time bonuses and impacted employees in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, and Michigan. -- March 7, 2018 News on 6 article excerpt

Wal-Mart – Texas employees at 508 Walmart stores received tax reform bonuses, wage increases, and expanded maternity and parental leave. Walmart employees who adopt children will be given $5,000 to help cover expenses.

T.J. Maxx70 stores in Texas – Tax reform bonuses, retirement plan contributions, parental leave, enhanced vacation benefits, and increased charitable donations:

“The 2017 Tax Act benefited the Company in the fourth quarter and full year Fiscal 2018. The Company expects to continue to benefit from the 2017 Tax Act going forward, primarily due to the lower U.S. corporate income tax rate. As a result of the estimated cash benefit related to the 2017 Tax Act, the Company is taking the following actions:

Associates

  • A one-time, discretionary bonus to eligible, non-bonus-plan Associates, globally
  • An incremental contribution to the Company’s defined contribution retirement plans for eligible Associates in the U.S. and internationally
  • Instituting paid parental leave for eligible Associates in the U.S.
  • Enhancing vacation benefits for certain U.S. Associates

Communities

Made meaningful contributions to TJX’s charitable foundations around the world to further support TJX’s charitable giving” – Feb. 28 2018, The TJX Companies Inc. press release excerpt

Home Depot -- 180 locations in Texas, bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.

Lowe's --23,000 employees at 23 stores and three distribution facilities in Texas. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service, for 260,000 employees; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance.

Ryder (41 locations in Texas) – Tax reform bonuses.

Cintas Corporation (Multiple locations in Texas) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 for employees of less than a year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Texas) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; $50 million investment in existing restaurants.

Comcast (Multiple locations in Texas) -- $1,000 bonuses; nationwide, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years:

Based on the passage of tax reform and the FCC's action on broadband, Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast NBC Universal, announced that the Company would award special $1,000 bonuses to more than one hundred thousand eligible frontline and non-executive employees.

Roberts also announced that the Company expects to spend well in excess of $50 billion over the next five years investing in infrastructure to radically improve and extend our broadband plant and capacity, and our television, film and theme park offerings. With these investments, we expect to add thousands of new direct and indirect jobs. – December 21, 2018, Comcast release excerpt

Starbucks Coffee Company (Multiple locations in Texas) –$500 stock grants for all retail employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plan and support center employee stock grants. Nationally, 8,000 new retail jobs; an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits and parental leave.

U-Haul (Multiple locations in Texas) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

FedEx (Multiple locations in Texas) – Accelerated and increased compensation; pension plan contributions:

“FedEx Corporation is announcing three major programs today following the recently enacted U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • Over $200 million in increased compensation, about two-thirds of which will go to hourly team members by advancing 2018 annual pay increases by six months to April 1st from the normal October date. The remainder will fund increases in performance- based incentive plans for salaried personnel.
  • A voluntary contribution of $1.5 billion to the FedEx pension plan to ensure it remains one of the best funded retirement programs in the country.
  • Investing $1.5 billion to significantly expand the FedEx Express Indianapolis hub over the next seven years. The Memphis SuperHub will also be modernized and enlarged in a major program the details of which will be announced later this spring.

FedEx believes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase GDP and investment in the United States. – Jan. 26 2018, FedEx press release

McDonald’s (1,200+ locations in Texas) – Increased tuition investments which will provide educational program access for 400,000 U.S. employees. $2,500 per year (up from $700) for crew working 15 hours a week, $3,000 (up from $1,050) for managers, and more:

McDonald’s Corporation today announced it will allocate $150 million over five years to its global Archways to Opportunity education program. This investment will provide almost 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees with accessibility to the program as the company will also lower eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment and drop weekly shift minimums from 20 hours to 15 hours. Additionally, McDonald’s will also extend some education benefits to restaurant employees’ family members. These enhancements underscore McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.

The Archways to Opportunity program provides eligible U.S. employees an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language.  

“Our commitment to education reinforces our ongoing support of the people who play a crucial role in our journey to build a better McDonald’s,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s President and CEO. “By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that’s at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

Accelerated by changes in the U.S. tax law, McDonald’s increased investment in the Archways to Opportunity Program includes:

  • Increased Tuition Investment:
    • Crew: Eligible crew will have access to $2,500/year, up from $700/year.
    • Managers: Eligible Managers will have access to $3,000/year, up from $1,050.
    • Participants have a choice for how they apply this funding – whether it be to a community college, four year university or trade school. There is no lifetime cap on tuition assistance – restaurant employees will be able to pursue their education and career passions at their own pace. The new tuition assistance is effective May 1, 2018 and retroactive to January 1, 2018.
  • Lowered Eligibility Requirements: Increase access to the program by lowering eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment. In addition, dropping from 20 hours minimum to 15 hours minimum (roughly two full time shifts) per week to enable restaurant employees more time to focus on studies.
  • Extended Services to Families: Extension of Career Online High School and College Advisory services to restaurant employees’ family members through existing educational partners Cengage and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
  • Additional Resources: Career exploration resources for eligible restaurant employees to be available later this year.
  • Creation of an International Education Fund: Grants to provide local initiatives and incentives in global markets to further education advancement programs.
     

“Since its inception, Archways to Opportunity was meant to match the ambition and drive of restaurant crew with the means and network to help them find success on their own terms,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People Officer. “By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job, we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald’s, we’ll invest in your future.”

After launching in the U.S. in 2015, Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for over 24,000 people and awarded over $21 million in high school and college tuition assistance. Graduates have received college degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources, Communications, Accounting, Microbiology and more. March 29, 2018 McDonald’s Corporation press release excerpt

Wells Fargo   588 locations in Texas; raised base wage from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over the next three years.

Note: If you know of other Texas examples, please email John Kartch at jkartch@atr.org

The running nationwide list of companies can be found at www.atr.org/list

More from Americans for Tax Reform


How the Republican Tax Cuts Are Helping Tennessee

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Posted by John Kartch on Friday, January 15th, 2021, 1:20 PM PERMALINK

Tennessee is benefiting greatly from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted by Republicans in 2017:

467,290 Tennessee households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the child tax credit.

Every income group in every Tennessee congressional district received a tax cut. Nationwide, a typical family of four received a $2,000 annual tax cut and a single parent with one child received a $1,300 annual tax cut.

2,420,850 Tennessee households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the standard deduction. Thanks to the tax cuts, nine out of ten households take the standard deduction which provides tax relief and simplifies the tax filing process.

83,440 Tennessee households are benefiting from the TCJA’s elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate tax. Most households hit with this tax made less than $50,000 per year.

Lower utility bills: As a direct result of the TCJA’s corporate tax rate cut, Tennessee residents are saving money on utility bills. Lower electric, water, and gas bills help households and small businesses operating on tight margins. For example, Chattanooga Gas Company, Piedmont Natural Gas Company, and Tennessee American Water Company (see below) all passed along tax reform savings to their customers. 

Thanks to the tax cuts, Tennessee businesses of all sizes are hiring, expanding, raising pay and increasing employee benefits:

Excel Boat Company (Ridgely, Tennessee) - Opening a new manufacturing plant:

“In Lake County, Excel Boat Company announced they will be opening a manufacturing plant that will bring 200 good-paying jobs and a total economic development investment of $9 million.” - May 8, 2018, Rep. David Kustoff statement on House floor

Tractor Supply (Franklin, Tennessee) - Increased wages at stores and distribution centers, invest in new stores, share repurchases:

Tractor Supply's CEO Greg Sandfort underscored the need to pay workers competitively in a January conference call and said the Brentwood-based company will advance wages at stores and distribution centers as a result of the new tax law. The company employs 1,200 in Middle Tennessee.

"Given some of the tax advantages that we have, we're going to stay not only very competitive on wages, but in many cases, we're going to be probably the person maybe leading up in the wages because we need to make sure we've got the best people, period," Sandfort said.

Tractor Supply, which had an income tax expense of $250 million in 2017, also plans to invest in new stores and online sales, and return money to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. The company did not elaborate on how much will be allocated to those investments or the size of the wage increases. - July 29, 2018, Tennessean article excerpt

Maxus Reality Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee) -- The company is building an apartment complex in an Opporitunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are:

Town Park Lofts – Kingsport – $39.4 million. This reflects the developer’s sale of The Lofts to Maxus Realty Trust. The Lofts is a luxury apartment complex on the edge of downtown Kingsport. -- November 22, 2019 DonFenley.Com article

Ole Smoky Distillery (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) - bonuses for non-senior management employees, purchasing new equipment, opening a new distillery, hiring new employees:

“We are very supportive of the new tax programs, as they are providing an opportunity for us to further invest in our team and business activities,” said Robert Hall, CEO of Ole Smoky Distillery. “We greatly value all our very talented employees, and are always striving to do what is best for them and the surrounding community. We will be using some of our tax savings to reward many of these hardworking individuals, as well as increasing our investment in new business endeavors. We couldn’t think of a better day to make this announcement.”

The moonshine distillery will be using some of the tax cut savings to provide bonuses for all employees below senior management, proportional to their tenure with the company. Additionally, because of its rapid business growth, the company has created many more jobs, particularly in East Tennessee, and plans to continue that growth by investing further in its Sevier County distilleries and expanding its footprint to Nashville, where it plans to open a 4th distillery and retail/entertainment location in the fall. New equipment has already been installed at the company’s largest distillery, the Holler, in order to expand production capacity. More equipment is on order for its Pittman Center bottling facility to continue the capacity expansion of that facility. - April 17, 2018, Ole Smoky Distillery press release excerpt

Sugarlands Distilling Company (Gatlinburg, Tennessee) – The Craft Beverage Modernization Act – a key part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – helped Sugarlands Distilling Company plan a new 42,000 square foot distillery and barrel house. Sugarland is also investing $2 million in new equipment:

“We’re a small distillery, and this is a huge risk, one that we couldn’t have taken without the Craft Beverage Modernization Act. That’s given us the capital and the confidence that we needed to make a big bet on the future of our company. This month, we are breaking ground on a 42,000 square foot distillery and barrel house. We’re purchasing over $2 million worth of equipment, including one of the biggest pot stills Vendome has ever made. Each year, we’ll be buying almost $3 million pounds of corn and rye, and thousands of handcrafted American Oak barrels to produce our Tennessee whiskey.” -- Ned Vickers, President and CEO of Sugarlands Distilling Company

Sugarlands has a wonderful new video telling the story of the expansion. Here is an excerpt from the video:

“Our business is our passion. But just like every other business, we have our share of challenges. The Craft Beverage Modernization Act has allowed us to plan expansion, buy new equipment, create more jobs, and introduce ourselves to people in new neighborhoods. It means we can continue making an impact felt by all of our families, partners, and friends, for years to come.”

Somera Road Inc. - Houston (Houston, Texas) -- The company is renovating a building to include office space, retail, and restaurants in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A real estate investor from New York City bought a property in the buzzy Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood on Tuesday — with plans to overhaul the industrial building on-site.

Somera Road Inc. now owns the 4.7-acre property at 1414 Fourth Ave. S., immediately south of downtown. The developer is rebranding the building as "WeHo Crossing," with plans to create 60,000 square feet of office space and another 12,500 square feet of retail and restaurant space. The project is set to debut in early 2020.

"There is a dearth of high-quality, creative, immediately available, unique space — similar to what Austin went through three or four years ago," said Ian Ross, managing partner of Somera Road. "We can create that here, rather than some generic steel-and-glass building."

Somera Road's development cranks up Wedgewood-Houston's transformation another notch, coming right on the heels of Apple Music and London-based boutique hotelier SoHo House signing leases for the nearby May Hosiery mixed-use development. (Those developers just revealed plans for another such project in the neighborhood, featuring the iconic guitar-shaped scoreboard from the old Greer Stadium).

Somera Road's purchase also calls fresh attention to the fact that this fast-changing neighborhood lies within an Opportunity Zone. Those zones, created in the federal government's 2017 tax law overhaul, grant investors lucrative tax breaks in order to entice them to back developments or companies located in those traditionally low-income areas. Somera Road's project is the latest in a spurt of local Opportunity Zone dealmaking that has also included the potential relocation of an aerospace manufacturer to North Nashville, apartments in that same part of town and a development in East Nashville.

Ross said he had been evaluating the prospective purchase before the government finalized its list of Opportunity Zones. "It makes a good deal better. It doesn't really help make a bad deal good," Ross said of the tax benefits. "We're not making deals make sense because it's in an Opportunity Zone. But it is really additive to our investors, if the deal works."

Somera Road paid $9.25 million for the land, according to newly filed public records. The company took out a $14.1 million loan, a figure that appears to include funds for construction.

Somera Road bought the land from the entity 4th Avenue South Ventures G.P.

This is Somera Road's first investment in Wedgewood-Houston, after making its local debut by purchasing two buildings in the Gulch from Nashville's Gibson Guitar Corp. Ohio-based entertainment concept Pins Mechanical Co. is moving into one of those buildings. -- April 23, 2019 Nashville Business Journal article

Sugarlands Distilling Company is a maker of many fine moonshines available online or in person in Gatlinburg.

Old Forge Distillery (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee) -- The company said that they plan on using the savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to upgrade equipment and add more employees.

Kris Tatum, president of the Tennessee Distillers Guild and partner/general manager at Old Forge Distillery in Pigeon Forge, said members of the guild are “ecstatic” to save money on taxes and reinvest in their businesses. He said the East Tennessee distillery he manages plans to use the savings to upgrade equipment and potentially add another staff member to help with a new line of spirits. 

“This benefits everyone in the industry. That’s what I think is huge,” Tatum said. “Often tax breaks go to either the big guys or the little guys, but not everybody at one time.” -- February 19, 2018 USA Today article

VITA Development Group (Kodak, Tennessee) -- The company is building a multifamily property in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Walker & Dunlop, Inc. announced today that it arranged a $21,086,700 construction loan for Kodak Crossing in Kodak, Tennessee. The new multifamily property is being developed by longtime client VITA Development Group, Inc., and will be located within the bounds of Sevier County, one of Tennessee's designated opportunity zone census tracts. The transaction represents one of the first opportunity properties financed with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, opportunity zones are a new, nationwide community investment tool that encourages long-term investments in designated low-income areas. Under this program, investors and developers who place unrealized capital gains into dedicated opportunity funds are eligible to receive incentives in the form of lower or deferred capital gains taxes.

Led by Managing Directors Keith Melton and David Strange, Walker & Dunlop arranged the loan through HUD's 221(d)(4) new construction program, which includes both construction and permanent financing in a single loan and mitigates interest rate risk for the developer. The program is also an ideal financing structure to take advantage of opportunity zone benefits, which requires that the developer holds the asset for a minimum of ten years. HUD has also begun prioritizing and offering lower fees for opportunity zone projects. The team worked closely with VITA Development to ensure the terms of the financing were consistent with opportunity zone guidance, securing a two-year construction term followed by a 40-year, fully amortizing, fixed-rate loan. -- June 6, 2019 Contify Banking News article

Ozone Capital (Knoxville, Tennessee) -- The Company announced they are building a housing community that will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Ozone Capital Management, LLC and its partners will construct new boutique housing community as part of mixed-use project redeveloping the historic Kerns Bakery site

Investment made as part of the firm's focus on investing in Opportunity Zones, as defined under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Ozone Capital Management, LLC ("OZCM") successfully completed a transformative investment in Knoxville, Tenn. alongside operating partner Mallory & Evans Partners. The investment, made on behalf of and alongside entrepreneurs, institutional investors, family offices, finance executives and technology leaders, will go towards constructing a 160-unit, 310 bed multifamily community at the historic Kerns Bakery Site.

The community is designed to appeal to millennials and members of Generation Z - including young professionals, graduate students, medical students and upper classmen from nearby University of Tennessee. The fully-furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments will have the latest smart-home technology. The two-bedrooms will have roommate floorplans with a private bath for each bedroom. A roommate matching service is available. Amenities will include co-working spaces, a pool, fitness center, a clubhouse, elevators and views of the skyline and greenspace.

Matt Morris, Managing Partner of OZCM stated, "Investing in this project alongside our operating partner, Mallory & Evans Partners, falls right in our firm's strategy of stimulating economic activity and creating jobs, while providing investors with exposure to defensive growth investments appropriate for late-cycle investing in secular growth regions of the country. Despite being a native Californian, I spent formative years living in the Southeast, and we are actively pursuing more successful investments in the region to help fulfill the core missions of the Opportunity Zone initiative."

Ozone Capital Management, LLC. is building a leading alternative asset management firm with Opportunity Zone investing as a core initial focus. Based in Menlo Park, the firm seeks to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, while also protecting and growing investor capital. For additional information, please visit OZCM's website at www.ozcm.io. Please contact the firm at ir@ozcm.io. -- May 30, 2019 press release

Southern Properties LLC (Memphis, Tennessee) -- The company will be building 247 apartment units and 72 single-family homes in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Bob Turner's plan to build a mixed-use community for seniors in Millington vanished with the Great Recession.

But now, with the federal government investing $30 million into a huge park nearby, Turner is planning a development that would include 247 apartments and 72 single-family homes on the same piece of land.

The federal investment comes as part of the $60 million in disaster resiliency funds Shelby County was awarded in 2016. It is meant to prevent a repeat of the floods in 2010 and 2011 that caused $79 million in property damages in Millington, according to the Shelby County Resilience Council.

Though the park project — which will include greenway trails, walking paths, and athletic fields — isn't set be completed until September 2022, Turner said it's already having a major impact.

"When the resilient project came in … you could just feel the change in the town," Turner said. "There’s exciting stuff going on in Millington. … There are several new developments planned."

Turner has sold the single-family lots to builders, who plan to sell the homes for about $200,000.

He is still seeking investors for the garden-style apartments. But, the federal government has also helped him out with this. Turner's project is in an Opportunity Zone, meaning it can provide tax benefits to investors. -- September 24, 2019 Memphis Business Journal article

Agatha (Johnson City, Tennessee) -- An Apple app's office is moving to the city, and will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are:

...

Agatha – Johnson City – $200,000. The firm’s Twitter tag describes it as a who-done-it game where you walk (run, etc.) in real life to make progress in the game. -- November 22, 2019 DonFenley.Com article

 

Alpha Capital Partners (Nashville, Tennessee) -- The company is building a 300-unit apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Real estate investors from Pittsburgh and Chicago, buoyed by lucrative new tax breaks, have bought land in North Nashville for a major apartment development.

The 300-unit apartment complex is a fresh example of newcomer money flowing into some of Nashville's lower-income urban areas. The investors are spurred by the federal Opportunity Zone program — which defers, reduces and even potentially eliminates taxes on capital gains tied to those areas.

In a joint venture, Pittsburgh-based Alpha Capital Partners and an affiliate of Chicago's Brierhill Capital are pursuing the apartment development on the vacant 2.7-acre property at 1501 Herman St. The land is located between Fisk University, which used to own it, and Marathon Village, a revitalized former car factory now home to a collection of shops, restaurants and businesses such as Corsair Distillery and Antique Archaeology. The latter is owned by Mike Wolfe of History Channel's "American Pickers."

The Herman Street project is the first in the Opportunity Zone fund that Alpha Capital Partners created last fall (with a target of raising $250 million from investors, according to regulatory filings). The 2017 tax law that President Trump championed created the tax benefit.

In a press release, Alpha Capital touted the project's location relative to Amazon's forthcoming 5,000-job office hub at downtown's Nashville Yards development, seen on the map below.

“The location of this project is a significant win given its proximity to affluent residential neighborhoods and modern retail concepts," said Thomas McGahan, managing director of investments at Alpha Capital.

This appears to be Alpha Capital's debut Nashville development.

Details such as the cost of the development, status of financing and construction timeline weren't immediately clear. Metro approved a zoning change in December to allow for this type of project. Metro records indicate the developers have not yet applied for building permits.

"Alpha’s development and construction teams are up and running with project execution," said Jide Famuagun, CEO of Alpha Capital Partners.

An affiliate of Brierhill Capital paid $4.5 million for the land in February. Company principals include Ben Kriger and Christopher Lefkovitz.

That purchase price is a 50 percent markup from what Nashville developer Richard Bacon, through his company Cottage Partners, paid for the land in mid-2018. Brierhill worked with Bacon to change the zoning for the site beyond buying it from him, Kriger said in an email.

Nashville's Truxton Trust Co. loaned $2.7 million to Brierhill for the land purchase, according to public records. -- April 2, 2019 Nashville Business Journal

Clay Street Commons (Nashville, Tennessee) -- The group is building 60 apartments along with retail space, in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A trio of developers has paid $2.3 million for land in North Nashville, where they aim to build 60 apartments and some retail space.

The group, operating as Clay Street Commons LLC, now owns a pair of roughly 0.56-acre properties on opposite sides of Ninth Avenue North, according to new public records. The land is two blocks from Buchanan Street, home to Slim & Husky's Pizza Beeria, which has become a landmark on what is one of the commercial gateways in the historically black neighborhood.

Steve Armistead, a principal in the development group, estimated the development would cost roughly $12 million. In an interview, he described two buildings that would mirror each other, on 1919 Ninth Ave. N. and 1928 Ninth Ave. N.

"We're looking to hit a price point that works with the local community and also services demand from the workforce in MetroCenter, downtown Nashville and elsewhere," Armistead said. "It brings a little density to that area, but it will be very thoughtfully done."

Armistead is a founding principal at Brentwood-based Armistead Arnold Pollard Real Estate Services LLC. In the 1990s, he was among the first to spot the potential to transform a derelict rail yard into the Gulch, which is today Nashville's most metropolitan urban neighborhood.

Others involved in the development include: Tim Morris, a principal at Academy Development Partners in the Washington, D.C., area, and Jared Bradley, who owns several Nashville companies, including The Bradley Development Group, The Bradley Projects and Certified Construction Services.

The same group is under construction on a 38-unit townhome development at 2400 21st Ave. S., named Linden Row. Unlike that project, the apartment development planned in North Nashville sits in an Opportunity Zone — which makes the developers eligible for unprecedented federal tax breaks in exchange for long-term investments in historically low-income areas.

The Opportunity Zone benefits have drawn a number of new developers into North Nashville. "This is my first time really making a full commitment to North Nashville," Armistead said.

He added that Opportunity Zone tax breaks didn't spark his group's interest. "That is not what's driving this, though it happens to be a part of it," he said. "This was really more driven by creating housing units that fall more toward the 'affordable' range. Opportunity Zones just happen to be a benefit years down the road." -- November 6, 2019 Nashville Business Journal article

 

Atlas Real Estate Partners  (Nashville, Tennessee) -- The real estate company is building a mixed-use space which will include apartments, retail, and office space, located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Details are emerging regarding a mixed-use project two local real estate investors and developers are planning for Wedgewood-Houston, with the three-building development to include 314 residential units and 25,000 square feet of retail and/or office space.
 
Documents submitted on behalf of Nathan Hysmith and Beau Fowler to Metro show two future buildings — one each located on either side of Merritt Avenue — as well as an updated existing structure are being proposed at the site. The existing building (see here) sits to the left of the structure home to Dozen Bakery and Zeitgeist Gallery and to the south of the building that accommodates Nashville Craft Distillery.
 
Fulmer Engineering, EOA Architects, Manuel Zeitlin Architects and S&ME (land surveying) are working on the project. No specific images and no groundbreaking have been released or announced to date.
 
The team will go before the Metro Planning Commission on May 28 to seek final specific plan rezoning approval, the document notes.
 
Hysmith and Fowler, teaming with New York-based Atlas Real Estate Partners, in June 2019 paid approximately $8.76 million for the property, which has addresses of 640 Merritt Ave., 714 Merritt Ave. and 520 Hagan St. That acquisition followed the pair's $4.5 million purchase a week prior of about two acres of property at 700 Hamilton Ave., which sits across railroad tracks from the property on which the mixed-use project is planned.
 
In addition, the ownership group owns a tiny 0.15-acre parcel located at the southwest corner of Hagan and Merritt and for which it paid $750,000 in August 2019, according to Metro records. That parcel is part of the aforementioned mixed-use project.
 
The various properties qualify for tax incentives via the federal opportunity zone program. Truck Center Inc., a used truck and truck parts dealer, operates at 518-520 Hagan. Kerr Brothers and Associates (a general contractor) had operated at the intersection of Hagan and Merritt but has since moved to nearby Chestnut Hill. -- April 16, 2020 Nashville Post article

Ozark Motor Lines (Memphis, Tennessee) – New driver per diem program:

Ozark Motor Lines and Whiteline Express have announced new pay packages for drivers.

Ozark, a family-owned ground transportation services company based in Memphis, Tennessee, said effective June 1 experienced over-the-road and regional drivers will receive 2 cents per mile increase while driving teams will receive an additional 1 cent per mile.

Also, Ozark Motor Lines is rolling out its first-ever driver per diem program to benefit drivers in response to tax law changes that went into effect earlier this year.

“It’s always great to be able to raise pay for our hard-working professional drivers,” said Patrick Landreth, vice president of human resources and safety. “These truck drivers have such an important job, Ozark makes it a priority to reward them for it.” – April 30, 2018 TheTrucker.com article excerpt

HCA Healthcare (Nashville, Tennessee) - New investments in facilities, expansion and technology development, increased employee training programs, employee education benefits, and increased family leave :

For HCA in Nashville, the tax cut means a nearly 30 percent increase, or $2.3 billion more, in capital spending during the next three years that will go to facility improvements, new facilities and greater technology. The company expects the spending to drive growth and add jobs, CEO Milton Johnson said in a conference call this year.

Along with initiating a 35 cent quarterly dividend to reward shareholders, HCA also announced a $300 million investment in the workforce that will go to education programs for nurses and caregivers, tuition reimbursements and scholarships for employees and greater family leave.

"We believe these programs will help improve patient experience and create more career opportunities for our employees," Johnson said in the call. - July 29, 2018, Tennessean article excerpt

Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc. (Jackson, Tennessee) -- The company used savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to hire more employees:

Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc., a manufacturer of restroom accessories for non-residential buildings, is creating new jobs in the U.S. by expanding its toilet partition product line production in Tennessee. This $4.5 million investment in U.S. manufacturing was made possible thanks to the strong economy and competitiveness fostered by tax reform.

In 2018, shortly after the passage of tax reform, Bobrick acquired a competitor based in the United Kingdom. Bobrick has since moved production for the North American product lines to its Jackson, Tenn., facility, where they just completed a 40,000-square-foot expansion.

“Bobrick is a great example of a global company relocating manufacturing from international operations to be closer and more responsive to domestic markets,” said Bobrick President Mark Louchheim. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to do that, especially as we expand.”

Since the beginning of 2017, Bobrick has increased its workforce by more than 30 percent, and the company plans to hire more workers in the coming months.

In addition, Bobrick is investing in its five other North American plants to help them continue to stay on the cutting edge of manufacturing technology.

“We’re truly in a renaissance of manufacturing when it comes to technological advances,” explained Louchheim. “We’ve made significant investments in all of our plants. Robotics and modern technology have made us more efficient than ever as a manufacturer. The increased competitiveness from productivity gains resulted in growth, and not a reduction in our labor force. Therefore, we are not only growing the company, but we’re also developing our workforce with higher-level skills and pay.”

Bobrick’s commitment shows that the future for U.S. manufacturing is bright.

“Tax reform leveled the playing field for manufacturers,” said Chris Netram, the National Association of Manufacturers Vice President of Tax and Domestic Economic Policy. “Bobrick is a great example of what manufacturers have been saying all along. Making our tax code more competitive sets the stage for companies of all shapes and sizes to create jobs, grow the economy and invest in the U.S.”

“The lower corporate tax rate made a huge impact on our ability to continue to invest in this business,” said Louchheim. “We couldn’t be more excited about the good things to come.” -- February 11, 2020 National Association of Manufacturers ShopFloor Blog

Appalachian Highlands Resort (Erwin, Tennessee) -- Resort is being built in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are.

...

Appalachian Highlands Resort – Erwin – $8.8 million. This project is identified as a 20-acre, 871,200 sq. ft.  real estate operating business in the hospitality sector. -- November 22, 2019 DonFenley.Com article

 

Connect Outdoors, Inc. (Johnson City, Tennessee) -- An outdoor technology and analytics business is moving to the city and will be located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

According to the Mastered in Tennessee website, there are currently four Opportunity Zone projects in the Tri-Cities area. The projects, business type, and value are:

...

Connect Outdoors, Inc. – Johnson City – $1 million. This operating business is in the outdoor recreation, technology, and analytics sector. The firm’s website announces itself and an online platform connection user to the outdoors by using data, technology and unique experiences. -- Nov. 22, 2019, DonFenly.Com Article.

Eastman Chemical (Kingsport, Tennessee) - Investing in innovation programs, increased capital expenditures to expand manufacturing:

Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman Chemical said it was investing savings in research and development, innovation programs and capital projects to expand manufacturing. - June 29, 2018, Tennessean article excerpt

Dong-A Hwa Sung (Martin, Tennessee) - Building new manufacturing facility with 220 jobs:

“Additionally, in my district, a South Korean manufacturer announced a $13 million investment in Martin, Tennessee, and 220 job opportunities at the company’s first United States-based location.” - May 8, 2018, Rep. David Kustoff statement on House floor

Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee) – $500 bonuses to employees:

As Uncle Sam takes his cut today on those still filing their 2017 taxes, nearly 1,200 employees of Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., are getting a tax-induced bonus today based upon cuts in the 2018 tax rate for the amusement park near the Great Smoky Mountains.

Dollywood hosts who worked at least 1,000 hours last year and are still employed with the amusement park are each getting $500 checks today, thanks to the recent federal tax cuts.

"Dollywood strives to be a great place to work for great people," Dollywood President Craig Ross said in a statement announcing the first-of-the-kind employee bonuses. "We're grateful for the memories our Hosts create for our Guests by working hard every day, and this bonus is just one way we plan to share our appreciation throughout the year." – April 17 2018, Times Free Press article excerpt

TCW Inc. (Nashville, Tennessee) - Purchasing new equipment, increasing wages, growing health insurance plans:

So the fact that we were able to depreciate that equipment we had $1.2 million reduction in our tax bill…we took that 1.2 and invested in wages for our drivers about $3,000 per driver per year that they got as a result of that.

“We also put another $500,000 into our health insurance plans. We took on more of the cost of health insurance. We had the confidence to be able to do that because of these changes that are taking place and because of the economy trucking is booming right now — we have a lot of demand.

“We also invested $20 million in additional equipment so trucks and trailers and chassis…We had a driver that was actually up here last week that said that, you know, this is about $2,300 a year tax savings.But forget the $3,000 raise that he got. $2,300 tax savings in his pocket. What he plans to do that is to save that and take his family on a vacation that he wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise without that.” - April 17, 2018 Tax Talk Roundtable, Dave Manning, President of TCW Inc.

Chattanooga Gas Company (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – The utility will pass along tax cut savings to customers:

During the Conference, the Commissioners voted unanimously to require Atmos Energy Corporation ("Atmos Energy"), Chattanooga Gas Company ("Chattanooga Gas"), Kingsport Power Company d/b/a AEP Appalachian Power ("Kingsport Power"), Piedmont Natural Gas Company ("Piedmont Natural Gas"), and Tennessee American Water Company ("Tennessee American Water"), to immediately apply deferred accounting treatment, specifically described herein, with respect to the impact of the lowering of the federal corporate income tax rate and to require the named public utilities to provide to the Commission no later than March 31, 2018, the amounts deferred and a proposal to reduce rates or otherwise make adjustments to account for the tax benefits resulting from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Pub. L. No. 115-97 ("2017 Tax Act"). – February 6, 2018, Tennessee Public Utility Commission Report excerpt

Piedmont Natural Gas Company (Nashville, Tennessee) - The utility will pass along tax cut savings to customers:

During the Conference, the Commissioners voted unanimously to require Atmos Energy Corporation ("Atmos Energy"), Chattanooga Gas Company ("Chattanooga Gas"), Kingsport Power Company d/b/a AEP Appalachian Power ("Kingsport Power"), Piedmont Natural Gas Company ("Piedmont Natural Gas"), and Tennessee American Water Company ("Tennessee American Water"), to immediately apply deferred accounting treatment, specifically described herein, with respect to the impact of the lowering of the federal corporate income tax rate and to require the named public utilities to provide to the Commission no later than March 31, 2018, the amounts deferred and a proposal to reduce rates or otherwise make adjustments to account for the tax benefits resulting from the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Pub. L. No. 115-97 ("2017 Tax Act"). – February 6, 2018, Tennessee Public Utility Commission Report excerpt

Tennessee American Water Company (Chattanooga, Tennessee) - Decreased their water billing rate by more than 3% because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“State regulators Monday approved rate changes by the Tennessee American Water Co., which should cut the typical water bill by more than 3% and save the average residential water customer in Chattanooga about 84 cents a month, effective immediately. 

The Tennessee Public Utility Commission Monday voted to pass through the Chattanooga water utility's tax savings for the next three years through a 6.6% base rate reduction, which would reduce the average bill for a typical water customer using 4,154 gallons of water a month by $1.43 a month. At the same time, the state regulatory board approved the proposed capital cost recovery plan by Tennessee-American that calls for about a 2.6% increase, or 59 cents more a month, to the same average water bill.” -- August 12, 2019 Chattanooga Times Free Press article

McKee Foods (Collegedale, Tennessee)Up to $1,000 bonuses:

McKee Foods employees came to work Tuesday, April 3, expecting a routine day baking and packaging products such as Little Debbie Chocolate Cupcakes, Donut Sticks and Honeybuns, and were surprised with an unexpected $1,000 cash award for full-time employees and $500 for part-time employees. 

“The recent federal tax legislation will provide benefits to the company and will allow us to invest back into the business," said Mike McKee, president and CEO. "The first thing we thought about was investing in our employees."

The announcement and disbursements of checks coincided with the company’s routine, yearly Spring Report Meetings, where all employees are invited to hear an update on the company from leadership. Attendance is optional and on-the-clock.

“We decided to keep this a tightly-guarded secret to make it more fun and impactful,” said Debbie McKee-Fowler, executive vice president. “Except for our September Profit-Sharing Meetings, this is about the most fun I’ve had at work in my entire career.” Ms. McKee-Fowler and other members of the McKee family helped pass out checks. Some employees were puzzled when members of the Payroll Department showed up to help pass out T-shirts, but in general the secret was well-kept and well-guarded, said officials.

McKee Foods employees received a one-time lump some cash award of $1,000 for all full-time, regular employees; $500 for all part-time, regular employees; and, $250 for all spare, limited, and provisional employees, who were employed on or before Friday, March 23.

Employees were very happy with the surprise. Comments ranged from, “I had some unexpected things happen last week that had me strapped; this will help a lot.” To simply, “Thank you.”– April 12, 2018 Chattanoogan.com news article excerpt

Advance Financial (Nashville, Tennessee) – increase in 401(k) match; increase in profit sharing; increase in charitable donations:

“Because we believed the new administration was committed to doing what it takes to get America’s economy back on track, we are already ahead of the curve this year in terms of capital investments. We dramatically sped up our plans to open new locations – we’re opening the 85th one this morning in Jackson – and hire more employees – we are bringing on 100 new people in January. We have also exponentially expanded our reach outside of Tennessee. In 2017, for the first time, we began offering our services outside the state via the Internet and today we are in 10 states other than Tennessee.“ – Tina Hodges, CEO and chief experience officer for Advance Financial, in a Jan. 5, 2018 Advance Financial press release

FedEx (Memphis, Tennessee) – commits more than $3.2 billion in wage increases, bonuses, pension funding due to the recent tax cuts. Pay raises, bonus increases, pension plan increases, and at least $1.5 billion in capital expenditures:

“FedEx Corporation is announcing three major programs today following the recently enacted U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • Over $200 million in increased compensation, about two-thirds of which will go to hourly team members by advancing 2018 annual pay increases by six months to April 1st from the normal October date. The remainder will fund increases in performance- based incentive plans for salaried personnel.
  • A voluntary contribution of $1.5 billion to the FedEx pension plan to ensure it remains one of the best funded retirement programs in the country.
  • Investing $1.5 billion to significantly expand the FedEx Express Indianapolis hub over the next seven years. The Memphis SuperHub will also be modernized and enlarged in a major program the details of which will be announced later this spring.

FedEx believes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase GDP and investment in the United States.

The company has made no change to its fiscal 2018 earnings or capital expenditure guidance as issued on December 19, 2017 as a result of these actions.” – Jan. 26 2018, FedEx press release

First Horizon National Corp. (Memphis, Tennessee) – $1,000 bonuses to 4,000 employees:

“And as a result of this outstanding performance and because of recent tax reform efforts that we believe will benefit First Horizon, we are happy to offer bonuses to our people who work hard every day to maintain First Horizon’s reputation as one of the best companies to work for and one of the most trusted banks in the country.” – First Horizon National Corp. press release

Spectrum Adhesives, Inc. (Memphis, Tennessee) -- $500 tax reform bonuses for employees.

Unum (Chattanooga, Tennessee) – base wage raise to $15 a hour, creation of paid parental leave, additional $1 million in charitable contributions:

“On the heels of announcing record financial results for 2017, Unum (NYSE: UNM) today said, in addition to the existing all-employee annual bonus program, it is investing in its people and communities with a new paid parental leave benefit for both mothers and fathers in the U.S.; enhancements to the compensation program so that all U.S. employees earn at least $15 an hour; and an additional $1 million in charitable contributions this year in support of the communities where Unum employees live and work.” – Feb. 1 2018, Unum press release excerpt  

Home Depot -- 39 locations in Tennessee, bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000.

Lowe's -- 8,000 employees at 60 stores and three distribution centers in Tennessee. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance.

Apple (Apple store locations in Nashville, Knoxville, Franklin, Germantown) -- $2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; Nationwide, $30 billion in additional capital expenditures over five years; 20,000 new employees will be hired; increased support of coding education and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math; increased support for U.S. manufacturing.

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 5,520 Tennessee employees; Nationwide, $1 billion increase in capital expenditures:

Today, Congress approved legislation representing the first comprehensive tax reform in a generation. The President is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

Once tax reform is signed into law, AT&T* plans to invest an additional $1 billion in the United States in 2018 and pay a special $1,000 bonus to more than 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees — all union-represented, non-management and front-line managers. If the President signs the bill before Christmas, employees will receive the bonus over the holidays.

“Congress, working closely with the President, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

Since 2012, AT&T has invested more in the United States than any other public company. Every $1 billion in capital invested in the telecom industry creates about 7,000 jobs for American workers, research shows. -- Dec. 20, 2017 AT&T Inc. press release

Bank of America (Multiple locations in Tennessee) -- Tennessee-based employees of Bank of America will receive $1,000 bonuses.

Cintas Corporation (Multiple locations in Tennessee) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 bonuses for employees of less than a year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Tennessee) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; nationally, $50 million investment in existing restaurants.

Comcast (Multiple locations in Tennessee) -- $1,000 bonuses. Nationally, at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years.

Ryder -- (Sixteen locations in Tennessee) – Tax reform bonuses for employees.

Starbucks Coffee Company (180 locations in Tennessee) – $500 stock grants for all  retail employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plan and support center employee stock grants. Nationally, 8,000 new retail jobs; an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits and parental leave. 

U-Haul (Multiple locations in Tennessee) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

Walmart – Tennesseans at 139 Walmart locations received tax reform bonuses, wage increases, and expanded maternity and parental leave. Walmart employees who adopt children will be given $5,000 to help cover expenses.​

McDonald’s (390+ locations in Tennessee) – Increased tuition investments which will provide educational program access for 400,000 U.S. employees. $2,500 per year (up from $700) for crew working 15 hours a week, $3,000 (up from $1,050) for managers, and more:

McDonald’s Corporation today announced it will allocate $150 million over five years to its global Archways to Opportunity education program. This investment will provide almost 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees with accessibility to the program as the company will also lower eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment and drop weekly shift minimums from 20 hours to 15 hours. Additionally, McDonald’s will also extend some education benefits to restaurant employees’ family members. These enhancements underscore McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.

The Archways to Opportunity program provides eligible U.S. employees an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language.  

“Our commitment to education reinforces our ongoing support of the people who play a crucial role in our journey to build a better McDonald’s,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s President and CEO. “By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that’s at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

Accelerated by changes in the U.S. tax law, McDonald’s increased investment in the Archways to Opportunity Program includes:

    • Increased Tuition Investment:
      • Crew: Eligible crew will have access to $2,500/year, up from $700/year.
      • Managers: Eligible Managers will have access to $3,000/year, up from $1,050.
      • Participants have a choice for how they apply this funding – whether it be to a community college, four year university or trade school. There is no lifetime cap on tuition assistance – restaurant employees will be able to pursue their education and career passions at their own pace. The new tuition assistance is effective May 1, 2018 and retroactive to January 1, 2018.
    • Lowered Eligibility Requirements: Increase access to the program by lowering eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment. In addition, dropping from 20 hours minimum to 15 hours minimum (roughly two full time shifts) per week to enable restaurant employees more time to focus on studies.
    • Extended Services to Families: Extension of Career Online High School and College Advisory services to restaurant employees’ family members through existing educational partners Cengage and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
    • Additional Resources: Career exploration resources for eligible restaurant employees to be available later this year.
    • Creation of an International Education Fund: Grants to provide local initiatives and incentives in global markets to further education advancement programs.
       

“Since its inception, Archways to Opportunity was meant to match the ambition and drive of restaurant crew with the means and network to help them find success on their own terms,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People Officer. “By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job, we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald’s, we’ll invest in your future.”

After launching in the U.S. in 2015, Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for over 24,000 people and awarded over $21 million in high school and college tuition assistance. Graduates have received college degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources, Communications, Accounting, Microbiology and more. – March 29, 2018 McDonald’s Corporation press release excerpt 

Wells Fargo – 18 locations in Tennessee; raised base wage from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; Nationally, $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over the next three years.

Note: If you know of other Tennessee examples, please email John Kartch at jkartch@atr.org

The running nationwide list of companies can be found at www.atr.org/list

More from Americans for Tax Reform


Biden's $15 Minimum Wage Could Kill 3.7 Million American Jobs

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Friday, January 15th, 2021, 11:30 AM PERMALINK

President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan, a liberal wishlist of wasteful spending proposals that would do little to fight the pandemic and could prolong the economic downturn. 

Notably, the Biden plan pushes a $15 minimum wage, a harmful proposal that could kill as many as 3.7 million American jobs and has failed on the state level time and time again. 

Biden’s $15 minimum wage would substantially raise the cost of labor at a time when businesses are already struggling to pay their employees and keep the lights on. Small businesses with thin margins will be forced to pass the costs on to consumers that will inevitably take their business elsewhere, leading to a further loss of revenue and layoffs. Businesses that have been shuttered temporarily may decide not to reopen at all in the face of a $15 minimum wage. 

While this drastic increase in labor costs would be a bad idea in normal times, the impact would be even worse during a pandemic that has ravaged American small businesses. Yelp data shows that 60 percent of business closures from the pandemic are now permanent. 

Government policies are directly responsible for inflicting much of this economic damage. Government-mandated lockdowns forced hundreds of thousands of businesses to close their doors and kicked millions of Americans out of work. In areas where some businesses were allowed to reopen under onerous government restrictions, Nancy Pelosi’s $600-per-week unemployment expansion discouraged Americans from going back to work, as 68 percent of Americans got paid more on unemployment than in the workplace. 

A $15 minimum wage would lead to further job losses for Americans. In 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that a nationwide $15 minimum wage would cost at least 1.3 million American jobs, and could cost as many as 3.7 million at the high end. Another study shows that a $15 minimum wage would disproportionately impact women and shut out young, low-skilled workers attempting to enter the workforce for the first time. 

The Biden plan also ends the tipped minimum wage, an absurd proposal considering 10,000 restaurants have closed their doors in the last three months alone. Imposing a 600 percent minimum wage increase on an already struggling industry in the middle a recession would only lead to more closures. If Biden is successful, one in three tipped workers would lose their job. 

A $15 minimum wage has repeatedly failed at the state level. When Seattle implemented a $15 minimum wage, thousands of jobs were lost, while other workers saw a reduction in hours worked. New York City’s minimum wage increase forced 75 percent of restaurants to cut employee hours, and nearly 50 percent to eliminate jobs entirely. 

Ultimately, Biden’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour will kill millions of American jobs and cause thousands of additional small businesses to permanently close their doors. This is the last thing American workers and small businesses need as the economy attempts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress should reject this harmful proposal wherever it appears.

Photo Credit: jlhervás


Congress Should Reject Biden $1.9 Trillion Spending Plan

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Thursday, January 14th, 2021, 7:42 PM PERMALINK

President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan. This proposal contains numerous wasteful spending provisions that would do little to fight the pandemic and could prolong the economic downturn. This proposal should be rejected by Congress.

Congress has already provided trillions of dollars to individuals, small businesses, hospitals, and state and local governments, including the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the recently passed $900 billion relief bill attached to the December government funding bill.

Lawmakers should reject this and other efforts to pass trillions of dollars in new spending. The COVID-19 pandemic should not be an excuse for the left to enact vast new spending programs that will permanently expand the size and scope of government.

Biden’s plan calls for a $350 billion bailout for state and local governments, funding which is entirely unnecessary.  Many states have seen little or no negative budgetary impact because of the pandemic, with California reporting a $15 billion budget surplus.

In addition, as recently reported by the New York Times, Wisconsin expects to have money to contribute to its rainy-day fund, Maryland has increased its revenue projections, and Minnesota expects a surplus. In all, state collections declined just 4.4 percent through September compared to the first nine months of 2019, according to the Tax Foundation.

Congress has also already provided aid to states, including approximately $360 billion that directly went to state and local governments to help them response to COVID-19.

In fact, even before the last $900 billion package, lawmakers had provided states and localities with 17 times their 2020 revenue loss and double their expected 2020 and 2021 loss, according to the Heritage Foundation

Biden’s plan also calls for $400 additional unemployment benefits through September and proposes a nationwide $15 minimum wage. Biden’s $400-per week unemployment would prolong the economic downturn by creating a disincentive for workers to return to work and will unnecessarily drive up unemployment rates. It is important to note that these payments are on top of regular unemployment compensation that displaced workers receive from states.

This $400-per-week expansion would extend the $300-per week benefit that was passed for three months at the end of last year, as well as Nancy Pelosi’s $600-per-week unemployment expansion passed in the CARES Act.

The Pelosi proposal created a situation in which 68 percent of Americans got paid more on unemployment than in the workplace. The economic damage caused by this policy is long-lasting – a recent study conducted by the Heritage Foundation found the $600 UI policy would reduce GDP by between $955 billion and $1.49 trillion. 

In addition to this $400 UI, Biden calls for a $15 minimum wage. If implemented, this proposal would cost jobs across the country. The Congressional Budget Office has found a $15 minimum wage would cost 1.3 million jobs, while other studies have found over 2 million jobs would be lost. This is not hypothetical – when Seattle implemented a $15 minimum wage, thousands of jobs were lost, while other workers saw a reduction in hours worked.

 


How the Republican Tax Cuts Are Helping Pennsylvania

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Posted by John Kartch on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021, 8:57 AM PERMALINK

Pennsylvania is benefiting greatly from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted by Republicans in 2017:

823,380 Pennsylvania households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the child tax credit.

Every income group in every Pennsylvania congressional district received a tax cut. A median income family of four received a $2,000 annual tax cut and a single parent with one child received a $1,300 annual tax cut.

4,415,920 Pennsylvania households are benefiting from the TCJA’s doubling of the standard deduction. Thanks to the tax cuts, nine out of ten households take the standard deduction which provides tax relief and simplifies the tax filing process.

153,140 Pennsylvania households are benefiting from the TCJA’s elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate tax. Most households hit with this tax made less than $50,000 per year.

Lower utility bills: As a direct result of the TCJA’s corporate tax rate cut, Pennsylvania residents are saving money on utility bills. Lower electric, water, and gas bills help households and small businesses operating on tight margins. Pennsylvania utilities that have passed along tax savings include -- but are not limited to -- Citizens’ Electric Company of LewisburgNational Fuel Gas Distribution CorporationPECO Energy CompanyPennsylvania Electric Company, and more. (see below).

Thanks to the tax cuts, Pennsylvania businesses of all sizes are hiring, expanding, raising pay and increasing employee benefits:

Hudson Facades (Linwood, Pennsylvania) –  Pay raises and $3,000 in every factory worker’s 401(k):

"We raised wages, yes,” said Allen Cohen, managing partner of New Hudson Facades, of the approximate 5 percent raise given to employees. “In addition to that, Related Companies [a partner company] has given every factory employee, $3,000 in their 401(k).” – Feb. 20 2018, WHYY article excerpt

Frontier Railroad Services (Fallowfield Township, Pennsylvania) -- The company is building an office building in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A rail-related company is now making tracks for Alta Vista Business Park.

Frontier Railroad Services LLC has purchased a 4.6-acre lot, according to a news release issued Thursday by Mon Valley Alliance, the nonprofit owner of the 256-acre park in Fallowfield Township. Frontier is a regional railroad construction and maintenance firm that specializes in new track construction and tie and rail changeout.

The company is currently based in New Stanton, but wants to construct its new headquarters in Alta Vista. Plans call for a building that would house corporate offices, a repair and maintenance facility and about 11,000 square feet of operating space. Work is targeted to begin this year and end in 2020.

Frontier plans to have a workforce of 20-plus, with room to expand. MVA said the company had three primary reasons for selecting Alta Vista: its proximity to Interstates 70, 76 and 376; having a shovel-ready site designated as a Keystone Opportunity Zone; and access to an industrial-based workforce.

Frontier is led by chief executive officer Nicholas Scigliano; president and chief operating officer Gregory Susko; vice president and chief financial officer Dennis Stoner Jr.; and chief estimator Scott Sepesky.

"Our company is growing and we have open positions to fill immediately," Sepesky said. "Specifically, we have positions open for laborers, operators and mechanics experienced in railroad construction."

John Easoz, chairman of the MVA board, said in a statement: "We are pleased to welcome a regional asset such as Frontier to Alta Vista. We look forward to working with the company as they continue to grow in this new headquarters, providing jobs and economic activity for our region." -- Feb. 22, 2019 Observer-Reporter article

Guy Chemical Company Inc. (Somerset, Pennsylvania) – Increased bonuses, increased wages, and investments in new equipment – a new forklift, new laboratory furnishings, updated computer equipment, and new software system:

Guy Chemical is increasing bonuses between 25 – 50%, increasing wages and investing in new equipment. So far in 2018 we bought a new forklift, urnished a new laboratory and updated some of our computer equipment. We have also invested in a new ERP software system to run our company. – April 4, 2018 statement to Americans for Tax Reform from Guy Berkebile, President of Guy Chemical Company Inc.

Ellwood Group (Ellwood, Pennsylvania) - Facility expansion:

The tax reform is incentivizing the Ellwood Group to invest $10 million into the plant, including an expansion that will house a massive robot.

Ellwood Group CEO David Barensfeld says 500 people currently work at the plant; 200 of them making military equipment.  "Two-thousand-pound capacity to automatically transfer unfinished bombs, so that they can be finished and sent to the Air Force...  And, we expect to expand employment by, perhaps, 10 percent in the next short while, because of the increased demand for bombs." - August 9, 2018, YourErie.com article excerpt

H2O Connected (Coatesville, Pennsylvania) -- The business will be relocating to an Opportunity Zone and expanding:

H2O Connected, the first Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) business to open its doors in Chester County, will be relocating in late 2020 into a highly anticipated Qualified Opportunity Zone Real Estate project at 190 West Lincoln Highway in Coatesville, developed by Proudfoot Capital.

This former Lukens Steel advertising and marketing office building, built in 1902, is being repurposed into The nth Innovation Center, which will offer entrepreneurs an environment to grow their companies from concept to commercialization.

Already slated to join H2O Connected is nth Solutions, a product development, business incubation, and manufacturing company located in Exton, PA; BioForce Analytics, a provider of sophisticated motion measurement devices for industry and education applications; and Priority Green, a leader in traffic signal preemption products for emergency vehicles. -- March 13, 2020 Daily Local article

Threadbare Cider & Mead (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) -- The distillery was able to save houndreds of thousands of dollars because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and was also able to hire three new distillers:

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act reduced the excise tax rate on distilled spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons per year, with smaller cuts to taxes on beer and wine.

“The tax relief, it’s well into the six figures for us,” said Meredith Meyer Grelli, co-owner at Wigle Distillery and Threadbare Cider & Mead in Pittsburgh. “Every dollar goes back into the business. And I think every small-business owner in the world can relate to that.”

Pittsburgh’s Wigle Whiskey Distillery produces a variety of small-batch whiskeys at its Strip District distillery. The 2017 tax relief allowed the business to immediately hire three distillers, Grelli said.

“It takes a year to train a new distiller, for them to be fully independent, safely operating a still,” she said. “So for every new distiller we bring on, we’re investing a year into them. If this tax relief went away and our taxes did go up 400%, we couldn’t grow our labor force in the same way. And we’d have to be much more careful about how we hired, because it is such a risk.” -- February 1, 2020 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article

Dollar Bank (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) - $2,000 permanent raises for employees making $60,000 or below:

Four months after most banks moved to give employees some of the anticipated savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the $8.3 billion-asset Dollar is giving workers with annual salaries at or below $60,000 a $2,000 raise. About 60% of Dollar’s 1,300-person workforce will get raises, Senior Vice President Joseph B. Smith said Monday.

CEO Jim McQuade announced the raises May 2 in an in-house video message. They went into effect May 1. - May 7, 2018, American Banker article excerpt

BrightFarms (Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania) -- The company is building a greenhouse that will grow food year round in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Ground was broken Monday for a greenhouse that will grow food in water.

Abby Prior, BrightFarms vice president of marketing, said the hydroponic greenhouse will use ponds to grow produce year round. Climate control will be key.

"We control the temperature, the humidity and, to some extent, we can control the light," Prior said. "We do use some artificial light and we use shades when we need shade."

Four acres will be developed for growing space with a single acre used for packing, cooling and shipping. Baby greens, salad greens such as spring mix, and herbs will be grown there.

Though it is an indoor operation, the plants may attract insects. They will be controlled without pesticides.

"We use something called integrated pest management," Prior said. "If we have a bug, we bring in another bug that eats or kills that other bug to control the pests in the greenhouse."

Eric Lallum, vice president of construction, said the area off Route 522, west of Selinsgrove, was ideal.

"We look for areas where we can orient the site so the greenhouse faces south," Lallum said. "That gives us the maximum sun, and it is as flat as we can get it."

The produce will be packed on site and ready to market at all Giant Food Stores. An officer with the Carlisle-based food store was glad to hear of the greenhouse's establishment.

"We are very excited," said John Ruane, Giant Food Stores chief merchandising officer. "We've been doing business with BrightFarms for many years. We have a great partnership. This just makes it even more local for us."

The property was designated as a 10-year Keystone Opportunity Zone, which Lallum called an incentive. Low-interest loans offered by the state also are being pursued. -- May 22, 2019 The News-Item article

Jefferson-Werner LLC (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) -- The developer is building an apartment complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

It looks like Bethlehem's crumbling Boyd Theatre has screened its final movie.

Fans of the city's last cinema house hoped the charming theater might be saved when developer Charles C. Jefferson bought the property in January 2016 for $1.35 million. But, alas, it looks like the water-logged building is beyond saving.

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez confirmed the developer plans to tear down the theater and build apartments there.

Jefferson told Lehigh Valley Business on Tuesday that he plans to demolish the theater to make way for a $22 million, 120-unit apartment project with lower-level retail by leveraging a federal opportunity zone, a tax incentive written into the new tax law.

Jefferson did not respond to a phone message seeking information on his plans, and emails to him and his company came back as undeliverable.

The opportunity zone designation gives developers of commercial and residential projects breaks on capital gains taxes for investing in economically disadvantaged areas. It is mean to encourage urban investment outside of city centers.

The stretch of East Broad Street where the Boyd sits has long vexed city officials. The decaying properties created a sharp demarcation between the city's restaurant row and Main Street shopping.

"We've been waiting a long time to see redevelopment at the Boyd," city Director of Community and Economic Development Alicia Miller Karner said. "... It is a

critical block to us. It is the bridge between Main Street and a significant residential area." The Boyd was shuttered in 2011 and as it decayed the adjacent storefronts were condemned in 2015. Shortly after, the city declared the property blighted. Donchez has long said retail and housing should be key elements of the redevelopment of the Boyd property.

On Wednesday, Donchez said while it's unfortunate economics mean the Boyd must be torn down, Jefferson is proposing a good project for the city.

"I think that block has a lot of potential," the mayor said. "I think it is underutilized."

Jefferson has shared conceptual designs with the city and the mayor is quite pleased with the proposed mixed use. New housing units downtown will bring more vitality to the city center and the retail will hopefully better link Broad Street to Main Street, Donchez said.

"It makes that block stronger," he said.

Jefferson told Lehigh Valley Business that the entire project could cover 147,800-square-feet with about eight total floors. Two floors would front onto East Broad Street with about eight to the rear, including lower level parking and retail topped with apartments.

"I think there is a tremendous demand for apartments in the downtown," Donchez said. "That's not just Bethlehem, if you look at Allentown and Easton, too."

The developer estimates that construction could start this fall, but no plans have been filed with the city.

At one time, Moravian College was interested in buying and rehabbing the former movie theater into a performance venue, but it abandoned the plans when faced with a $30 million price tag and no major donor to help.

Water damage has long plagued the 1,100-seat Boyd and the buildings surrounding it. The theater closed following heavy rains in May 2011. When the city condemned the property in 2015, officials found an elaborate tarp system along with 50-gallon drums set up in second-floor office space.

The property consists of the theater, which has an orchestra pit and dressing rooms backstage, five storefronts, 10,000 square feet of office space and a onetime nightclub below street level.

Currently, Jefferson's company Jefferson-Werner LLC is working with Lehigh University to renovate the former Lehigh Valley Cold Storage building, 321 Adams St. in South Bethlehem, into 30 market-rate apartments, a retail space and courtyard. The project dubbed Brinker Lofts also sits in one of Bethlehem's opportunity zones. -- February 14, 2019 The Express-Times article

Eric Blumenfeld (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) -- The developer is building a mixed-use space that will include offices, apartments, and a fitness club in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Developer Eric Blumenfeld is aiming to break ground in July on a 30-story North Broad Street tower with offices, apartments and a fitness club that he hopes cap with digital screens featuring animated versions of the famous mural next door.

Blumenfeld said Wednesday that he was close to finalizing a deal with investors in the $160 million project who will be taking advantage of the Broad and Spring Garden Street site’s location in an “opportunity zone” under the 2017 tax bill.

Under that law, investors in projects within opportunity zones can claim savings on taxes from the sale of assets that have gained in value. Blumenfeld declined to share details about the opportunity zone backing of what he’s calling Mural West before the deal is signed.

The tower, on the northeast corner, would rise beside Blumenfeld’s Mural Lofts apartments, formerly the Thaddeus Stevens School, which is known for the Common Threads mural painted on its side.

It would be Philadelphia’s tallest building outside the city’s central core, as well as the latest — and largest — project in the city to be funded under the opportunity-zone program, which is meant to encourage development in low-income communities.

The project is slated to include about 205 apartments and 68,000 square feet of office space, according to a brochure prepared by brokerage Precision Realty Group to market the proposal’s ground-floor retail spaces.

Blumenfeld said he’s also nearing a deal with the operator of a planned fitness center in the building that would occupy nearly 48,000 square feet over six floors. The fitness complex may include features such as coworking offices and guest rooms for overnight visitor stays, Blumenfeld said.

Similar combinations of amenities can be found at Life Time Fitness Inc.‘s location in Ardmore’s Suburban Square shopping complex and the planned Fitler Club private membership club being built in Aramark Corp.‘s headquarters building at 2400 Market St.

Blumenfeld’s plans for Mural West also call for the tower to be crowned with digital screens playing animated vignettes based on the Common Threads mural.

The effect will be similar to the animation in the 2017 Vincent Van Gogh biographical film Loving Vincent, in which “they take all the figures in his artwork, and they bring it to life,” he said. “I think it’s going to be the most interesting building ever built in Philadelphia.”

Blumenfeld’s other projects in the area include the recently completed Metropolitan Opera House concert venue and the Divine Lorraine apartments. -- April 12, 2019 Philadelphia Inquirer article

Custom Container Solutions (Milton, Pennsylvania) -- The steel container company moved to central Pennsylvania and is creating 100 new jobs in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

MILTON, Pa. -- The state has designated an old industrial site in central Pennsylvania as a Keystone Opportunity Zone and now nearly 100 jobs are coming to an old factory that had been shut down.

The plant in Northumberland County has been vacant and collecting dust for the past decade, but starting next year, it will help create almost 100 jobs in central Pennsylvania.

The old manufacturing plant in Milton Industrial Park will be up and running next year. The building has sat vacant since 2008 but will soon be home to Custom Container Solutions, a company that makes steel containers.

"It checks almost every box in our wish list, and so now our team is excited to have closed on the property, and we are moving forward with fitting out the equipment and starting to hire people," said Todd Vonderheid of Custom Container Solutions. -- October 21, 2019 ABC 16 article

Hazelwood Green Development (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) -- This Opportunity Zone led to the creation of a 240,000 square foot workspace which has the potential to become a local tech hub, laying the groundwork for Pittsburgh’s jobs of the future.

“One of those success stories, she said, is the nearby Hazelwood Green development, which is located within one of the 68 designated opportunity zones in Allegheny County. Ms. Kelley and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fleming spent Friday morning at the riverfront property, formerly the LTV Coke Works site, which developers and universities say could become a potential local tech hub.

Ms. Kelley said she’s happy to see the development -—including the Mill 19 building that will become a 240,000-square foot workspace — is within an opportunity zone, and will help lay the groundwork for Pittsburgh’s jobs of the future.

"Not only can Mill 19 provide new jobs and opportunities to Hazelwood, but it will also expose an entire community to advanced manufacturing, which was a community born in traditional manufacturing," Ms. Kelley said.” -- November 1, 2019, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Spark Therapeutics (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) -- The company extended their lease in a newly remodeled building located in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Spark Therapeutics Inc. has signed a 12-year lease at 3000 Market St. to expand its Philadelphia presence.

The 58,587-square-foot building is located across from space Spark is taking in the Bulletin Building at 3025 Market St., a 282,709-square-foot structure being redeveloped in University City.

Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) owns both buildings, which sit across from 30th Street Station. The real estate company expects to have the Bulletin Building completed by the third quarter. As for 3000 Market, Brandywine said in a first-quarter conference call with analysts on Thursday that the redevelopment of it into a life sciences building will begin once Pennsylvania lifts a ban on construction projects.

Brandywine CEO Jerry Sweeney announced on the call the signing of a 12-year lease at 3000 Market but declined to disclose the name of the tenant when pressed by analysts. However, he said it was a well-known company in Philadelphia with major corporate credit, in the cell-gene therapy business and already has a presence in University City. “We were delighted to bring them in,” Sweeney said.

A source familiar with the deal confirmed the tenant was Spark. The lease will commence during the third quarter of 2021.

Spark, which was spun out of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, was acquired last year by Roche for $4.3 billion.

"Spark Therapeutics was founded in Philadelphia, and we intend to grow here," Kevin Giordano, a company spokesman, told the Business Journal. "Spark numbers more than 450 employees, and we have ambitious growth plans to achieve our vision of creating a world where no life is limited by genetic disease. In order to further our investment in Philadelphia and accommodate our expected growth, Spark is working with Roche to assess opportunities to expand our footprint within the city. At this time, we are not commenting further on what space or locations are being considered."

The company is currently headquartered nearby in University City. Spark has said it plans on adding hundreds of new jobs in West Philadelphia.

The idea of converting 3000 Market into a life sciences building was a bit of an experiment for Brandywine but the company was able to move fast, have the real estate company’s development team evaluate it and move ahead with it, Sweeney said. The quick lease up and ability to move ahead with creating the space has prompted Brandywine to consider converting floors in other buildings into life-science space to capture demand.

“There has been no slowdown of activity with life science tenants,” Sweeney said.

The Bulletin Building and 3000 Market are part of Brandywine’s $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards mixed-use development in University City, which is expected to eventually see 6.9 million square feet of new construction.

The company has queued up what it refers to as its West Tower that will have housing and office space and is working with a Qualified Opportunity Zone equity partner on that project. The building will have 419,000 square feet split between office and apartment space. It will also have 9,000 square feet of retail space and covered parking.

Brandywine also has in design for the development for another life science building and anticipates, conditions permitting, that will start during the first half of next year.

In 2018, Spark received a $2 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and a $7.5 million grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to add 500 new jobs over the next five years.

Spark holds the distinction of being the first company to receive FDA approval for a gene therapy — Luxturna — developed to treat an inherited disorder. The genetic retinal disorder leads to blindness if untreated. -- April 23, 2020 Philadelphia Business Journal article

Iovance (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) -- The cancer therapy firm is building an office and laboratory complex in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Cancer-therapy firm Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc. plans to open a sprawling office and laboratory complex in South Philadelphia’s Navy Yard complex, adding to the city’s growing clout as a biotechnology research-and-development hub.

Iovance, which specializes in the development and commercialization of cancer immunotherapies using cells known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, will occupy a three-story, 136,000-square-foot building that will span about a block of the Navy Yard’s core business and research park.

The Navy Yard was also chosen because of the tax advantages that come from being within a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which can qualify companies for city and state tax breaks, as well as other financial incentives. -- May 30, 2019 Philadelphia Inquirer article

WinnDevelopment (Jersey City, New Jersey) -- The company announced they are building affordable housing units in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

One building was the old Liberty Hotel, built on Baltic Avenue in 1924 and listed in a 1950s “Green Book” of places welcoming to black travelers, one of 27 in Atlantic City.

Another was the old Illinois Avenue School, built in 1906.

The third was once the celebrated Northside YMCA on Arctic Avenue, built in 1927, a community gathering place that knit together the city’s historically thriving black neighborhood.

All three buildings later became affordable housing, and more recently, severely rundown properties described Wednesday by Mayor Frank Gilliam as “dismal, deplorable, subpar.”

“Living in squalor is not something any municipality should have to deal with,” Gilliam said.

But local and state officials announced Wednesday that WinnDevelopment would be acquiring all three properties as part of an opportunity zone investment, substantially rehabilitating the properties, and keeping them affordable housing for the required 30 years and, vice president Brett Meringoff said, beyond. -- May 30, 2019 Philadelphia Inquirer article

Brandywine Realty Trust (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) -- The company is building a mixed-use space in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

Brandywine Realty Trust opened Drexel Square, a $14.3 million park that will serve as the cornerstone of Schuylkill Yards, an ambitious 6.9-million-square-foot mixed-use community under development at the front door of University City.

The 1.3-acre park is the first phase of Schuylkill Yards, which Brandywine is developing in partnership with Drexel University. Its completion sets the tone for what the developer is hoping to accomplish with the project.

“Schuylkill Yards is a large-scale development, but it’s really about changing the existing perception of University City and Philadelphia,” said Jerry Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, in an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Drexel Square was built on a dingy surface parking lot that was the first impression of University City for the millions of people who use 30th Street Station each year; in that way, Drexel Square is an initial step to alter perceptions.

The 12,064-square-foot elevated space has 23 redwood trees, raised planter beds and pathways that represent the meridians of the globe, symbolizing the connections Schuylkill Yards aims to create while also serving as ways to navigate the park. The space, which can accommodate 500 people, was designed by West8 and Shop Architects.

“We wanted to create a durable wow effect,” Sweeney said. “We want people to walk out of the train station and say, ‘Wow!’ ”

John Fry, president of Drexel University, said few developers would take what amounts to an extremely valuable piece of property, one that could easily accommodate a 50-story building, and instead create a public space. “It says a lot about our collective vision,” he said.

With the park finished, next up for Schuylkill Yards is the $43.3 million completion of the redevelopment of the former Bulletin building. Spark Therapeutics will occupy office and lab space in that structure and will be fully moved in by the end of the year. The first floor will house 35,000 square feet of retail space and several tenants are under consideration, including a food hall.

The next two projects Brandywine will focus on involve securing anchor tenants to fill one-third of a proposed 800,000-square-foot office tower and constructing a building that will have 325 apartments and creative office space. That second tower could start as early as next year since demand for apartments remains strong, Sweeney said. Longer-range, Brandywine plans to build a 300,000- to 400,000-square-foot life science building. It has partnered with Longfellow Real Estate Partners of Boston on that project.

Schuylkill Yards sits in a Keystone Opportunity Zone as well as a Federal Opportunity Zone, giving tenants tax breaks and another enticement to move into one of its office buildings. While those benefits are attractive, Sweeney said one of the biggest lures is its proximity to 30th Street Station. -- June 11, 2019 Philadelphia Business Journal article

Erie Insurance (Erie, Pennsylvania) – $1,000 bonuses; $1,000 contribution to employees’ 401(k) accounts:

Erie Insurance CEO Tim NeCastro called an all-employee meeting Wednesday to deliver a bit of good news — a few million dollars worth of good news, in fact.

Like many corporations, the company was expected to benefit from the new tax code that President Donald Trump signed into law in December.

NeCastro has announced that the company will share those benefits with its employees by giving a $1,000 cash bonus to permanent full-and part-time employees.

In addition, the company will contribute $1,000 to the account of any employee who has a 401 (k) retirement savings plan. – March 23 2018, Go Erie article excerpt

Comcast (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) -- $1,000 bonuses to 100,000 employees; at least $50 billion investment in infrastructure in next five years

“Based on the passage of tax reform and the FCC's action on broadband, Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast NBCUniversal, announced that the Company would award special $1,000 bonuses to more than one hundred thousand eligible frontline and non-executive employees.” – Comcast press release

1st Summit Bank (Johnstown, Pennsylvania) -- $1,000 bonuses to full-time employees; salary raises; increased charitable donations.

Seokoh Inc. (Scott Township, Pennsylvania) -- A cosmetics company is building a facility in the Pennsylvania town that will create at least 280 jobs, in an Opportunity Zone created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

A Scott Twp. cosmetics company is expected to soon break ground on a $27.9 million expansion that's estimated to create at least 280 new jobs in the next three years, a township official said Friday.

Carl Ferraro,township administrator, said officials with Seokoh Inc. advised him they want to begin excavation work before winter.

"The excavation end of it is going to be massive," he said. "I expect them to start any day now."

The company, a subsidiary of the integrated cosmetic and pharmaceutical company Kolmar Korea, plans to construct two roughly 200,000-square-foot buildings on property adjacent to its existing factory located on Life Science Drive in the Scott Technology Park.

Gov. Tom Wolf touted the project Friday as an example of the competitive advantage Pennsylvania offers manufacturing companies.

"Our diverse workforce and central location make Pennsylvania a prime place to do business," Wolf said in a press release. "We are pleased to see Seokoh further grow its operations."

The company is a leading contract manufacturer and filler of premium cosmetics and personal care products. It employs about 290 people. In addition to the new facilities, Seokoh will renovate its existing plant and purchase new equipment.

State and local business officials helped entice the firm with several tax breaks, including an extension of Keystone Opportunity Zone benefits that provide temporary relief from certain state and local taxes through 2028. The Lakeland School District and Lackawanna County commissioners approved that extension last year. -- September 21, 2019 The Times-Tribune article

AccuWeather (State College, Pennsylvania) – Tax reform bonuses for all employees. (Approx. 450 – 500 employees):

“The bonuses are possible due to the company's robust financial performance in 2017 and strong confidence in the growing U.S. and global economy now that the Tax Bill has passed.” – Dec. 26, 2017 AccuWeather press release

Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC) (Erie, Pennsylvania) – The EDDC used benefits made possible by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to reinvest in their downtown area and attract new businesses:

"The EDDC is actively pursuing additional Downtown real estate for revitalization. It’s working with national investment funds, philanthropic organizations, and urban planning leaders to leverage investment through Opportunity Funds in the Downtown. It’s leveraging existing community-developed plans, including Erie Refocused, Emerge 2040, and the Erie Downtown Master Plan. The EDDC has a four part development strategy for downtown: Acquire and redevelop commercial and residential real estate; attract new businesses, residents & investment; support and enhance the public spaces; and create programming."  –  November, 2019, Governance Project

Cranston Material Handling Equipment Corp. (McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania) – Because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the company was able to purchase new equipment, build a new website, and invest in training:

As president of the western Pennsylvania company, Cranston was there to discuss the benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act for small business. Founded in 1957 and an NFIB member since 1994, Cranston Material Handling Equipment Corporation sells material handling products.

“Like many business owners, I pay quarterly estimated taxes,” Cranston testified. “In order to pay those taxes, I take cash from my company each quarter. Those payments suck my working capital right out of my business quarter after quarter. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s new Section 199A, I now qualify for a 20 percent deduction on my pass-through income. In real terms, this means I will be able to keep between $1,200 and $2,500 a quarter in my business that I would otherwise have paid in taxes. The ability to keep $5,000 to $10,000 a year in my company is a big deal to a small business owner like me.”

As of January, Cranston has focused on expanding into a new product line. Cranston will purchase new equipment, invest in training, and build a new website, according to his testimony. He credited the tax act for his better financial position to self-fund this new product.

“I can tell you that my optimism that the economy has a real opportunity to continue improving has dramatically increased,” Cranston testified.

Cranston testified in front of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, alongside Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, David Kamin, professor of law at the New York University School of Law, and Rebecca Kysar, professor of law at the Brooklyn Law School.

“The Tax Cuts and Job Act has not only reduced taxes for businesses like mine; it has created an environment where more business owners feel confident to take the cash from the tax savings and invest it back into their businesses,” Cranston told lawmakers. “For these reasons, I believe the Tax Cuts and Job Act is spurring business investment and therefore has set the stage for increased economic growth for years to come.” – April 25, 2018, NFIB article.

Centric Financial Corporation, Inc. (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) - Increasing employee wages, hiring new staff, investing in new technology, expanding services offered to customers:

With the support of the Bank's board of directors and the corporate tax savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law on December 22, 2017, Centric Bank President and CEO Patricia (Patti) A. Husic unveiled a suite of bank-wide initiatives to announce post-tax reform benefits to share and reinvest savings with customers, employees, and the community.

Effective July 1, 2018, Centric Bank is committed to:

  1. Increasing salaries of entry-level personnel to $15 per hour, resulting in raises for more than 50 Centric Bank employees in the operations, credit, and branch areas of the Bank and who are on the frontlines of serving customers.

  2. Providing raises to employees who are near entry-level wages, resulting in a 6% increase.

  3. Hiring additional team members in business development and commercial lending to expand upon the positive, pro-growth relationships with small businesses in the Bank's market areas, and meet the increased lending demand from economic optimism and business growth.

  4. 4. Investing between $3 and $4 million in technology initiatives over the course of five years, beginning with strategic goals set forth by Centric Bank's Chief Information Officer & Director of Operations. Innovations, expanded customer initiatives, multichannel distribution, digitization, service development, and customer experience personalization will be areas of focus.

  5. 5. Expanding the physical footprint of Centric Bank to include additional full-service technologies in our financial centers for these markets over the next 3 to 4 years.         

- August 17, 2018, Centric Financial Corporation, Inc. press release

American Bank (Allentown, Pennsylvania) – $1,000 bonuses for 60 employees:

“President and CEO Mark W. Jaindl stated, “Beginning in 2018, we expect to see benefits from the recent tax reform due to lower corporate tax rates.  As we celebrate the holiday season and prepare to close out another year of growth at American Bank, the Board of Directors and senior management want to give back to our team members who are directly responsible for our success.”

Mr. Jaindl continued, “We expect the actions taken by Congress and the President will have a material positive impact on growth throughout the country.  As a result, we anticipate our hiring efforts will increase in 2018.”  Dec. 22, 2017 American Bank press release

Pike County Light & Power Company (Milford, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (Allentown, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Blair Strip Steel Company (New Castle, Pennsylvania) -- The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allowed the company to raise wages, hire new people, and buy new equipment.

“I want to thank Mike Kelly for his role in the successful effort to reduce taxes on behalf of the company and it’s employees, said Bruce Kinney, president and CEO of Blair Strip Steel Company. His efforts are a key part of rebuilding and sustaining a healthier manufacturing climate in Pennsylvania and across the United States.” -- August 6, 2018 NAM Shopfloor Blog

Erie Insurance (Erie, Pennsylvania)– The insurance company is investing $50 million in the Opportunity Zone investment fund to support a variety of projects in Erie:

“Erie Insurance CEO Tim Necastro announced the establishment of 50 million dollars to the Opportunity Zone Investment Fund. 

The fund is designated to help financially support different projects within a portfolio. One of those projects is the Erie Downtown Development Corporation’s plan for North Park Row. 

Erie Insurance is investing 2.6 million dollars into the project to create a Culinary Arts District, Foot hall, Market, and Apartments. 

Necastro said money in the Opportunity Fund is considered an investment, not a donation.” – August 19th, 2019, Your Erie

Wellsboro Electric Company (Wellsboro, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

West Penn Power Company (Greensburg, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

PECO Energy Company (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation (Erie, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Peoples Gas Company LLC (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Peoples Natural Gas Company LLC-Equitable Division (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

UGI Central Penn Gas Inc. (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc. (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

UGI Utilities Inc. (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Fairfield Inn & Suites (Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania) (Neema Hospitality Franchise)  - New location acquired, renovations

$700,000 investment in renovation and upgrades due to tax reform. - August 3 2018, call with Americans for Tax Reform  

Comfort Inn (Mechanicsburg , Pennsylvania) (Neema Hospitality Franchise) - Acquired hotel, renovations:

$400,000 investment in renovation and upgrades due to tax reform - August 3, 2018, phone call with Americans for Tax Reform

Pennsylvania-American Water Company (Hershey, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Pennsylvania-American Water Company-Wastewater (Hershey, Pennsylvania) - the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Citizens’ Electric Company of Lewisburg (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) – the utility will pass along tax reform savings to customers:

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today issued an Order, requiring a “negative surcharge” or monthly credit on customer bills for 17 major electric, natural gas, and water and wastewater utilities, totaling more than $320-million per year. The refunds to consumers are the result of the substantial decrease in federal corporate tax rates and other tax changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which impacted the tax liability of many utilities.

Additionally, the PUC will consider the effects of federal tax reform on seven other public utilities as part of the investigations for rate cases which have already been filed or are expected to be filed by Aug. 1, 2018. In those situations, the Commission has directed the parties involved to address the impact of any TCJA tax savings as part of the overall rate design for each utility. – May 17, 2018, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission Press Release

Beneficial Bancorp, Inc. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) -- base wage raised to $14 per hour; $1,000 bonuses for all AVP Level employees and below; 4.5% employer contribution to 401(k) plans:

Following the passage of H.R. 1 and the anticipated savings from lower future taxes, we announced a special $1,000 bonus paid to over 600 employees and enhanced our medical coverage to our entire employee base.  We also evaluated the compensation of our hourly employees and raised our minimum hourly rate to $14.00. -- Feb. 1, 2018 Beneficial Bancorp Inc. press release

Customers Bank (Wyomissing, Pennsylvania) – increased charitable contributions of $1 million:

Customers Bank will also increase its charitable giving by $1 million in 2018, and will continue to invest in its talent, who all already earn at least $15 per hour – a rarity in banking. “By increasing our charitable giving and investing in our talent, we’re investing in the growth of the communities we serve,” said Sidhu. “These tax savings will ensure that we can put more money in the hands of communities, families, and small business owners. We expect that this bill will be positive for growth.” – Jan. 5, 2018 Customers Bank press release

Fidelity Bank (Dunmore, Pennsylvania; not to be confused with Fidelity Investments) – $1,000 bonuses for all full-time employees making less than $100,000; $500,000 in charitable donations:

Fidelity Bank is pleased to announce additional investments in its Bankers and communities made possible by the passing of the recent tax reform bill. Fidelity Bank’s Board of Directors and Executive Management Team have decided to share in the benefits of the lower corporate tax burden by:

  • Providing a one-time cash payment of $1,000 to all full-time Fidelity Bankers. This bonus was paid to all Fidelity Bankers below $100,000 in annual compensation.
  • Taking a $500,000 contribution to the newly created Fidelity D & D Charitable Foundation that will support the local philanthropic and community needs. The newly formed and funded foundation creates a sustainable way to give back to the communities Fidelity Bank serves.
     

“The tax reform law creates an opportunity to reward our most valuable asset, our Bankers, who are working hard each day to serve our clients, building strong relationships in our communities, and creating long term shareholder value. The Fidelity Bankers put forth perfect effort to position Fidelity Bank as the best bank,” said Daniel J. Santaniello, President & Chief Executive Officer. -- Jan. 2 2018, Fidelity Bank press release

Kraft Heinz Company (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois) – $1.3 billion pre-funding of post-retirement benefit plans; $800 million in capital expenditures; $300 million in strategic investments:

“Since the HR-1 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, we have already taken actions and are accelerating key business initiatives. This includes approximately $300 million in strategic investments to build our capabilities, our people skills and our brands; more than $800 million in capital expenditures to improve quality, safety and capacity; as well as $1.3 billion to pre-fund our post-retirement benefit plans.” – Feb. 16 Kraft Heinz statement by David Knopf, CFO

F.N.B. Corporation (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – extra 401(k) contributions to employees totaling $1 million; base wage raised to $15 per hour; increased charitable donations:

F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE:FNB) today announced a significant financial commitment to both its employees and the communities it serves relating to the signing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

As an investment in its workforce, FNB plans to raise the minimum hourly wage for its employees to $15 by the end of 2019, accelerating an ongoing initiative to elevate hourly wages. Paying competitive wages will continue to be a focus for the Company in attracting and retaining the highest caliber employees to serve customers, which translates into strong financial performance and benefit to its shareholders. FNB will also provide a discretionary, one-time 401(k) contribution, totaling $1 million, to the vast majority of employees based upon analysis of compensation levels and eligibility.

During the first half of 2017, FNB also made a $5 million contribution to its Foundation, which was established to provide grants for a variety of non-profit entities throughout its multi-state footprint. Moving forward, these funds will be utilized to support causes within its service area. This contribution was also part of a broader community benefit plan focusing on charitable giving, community development investments and lending efforts serving financially-vulnerable and historically underserved populations.


“We are pleased that the current tax law changes present the opportunity for substantial benefits for our clients, employees, communities and shareholders,” said Vincent J. Delie, Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of F.N.B. Corporation. “Increased investment in our employees and in improving the quality of life within our communities creates an enhanced experience for our clients and superior long-term shareholder returns.” – Jan. 18, 2018 F.N.B. Corporation press release

Almo Corporation (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) – $1,000 incremental bonus, capital improvement, and purchasing a new operating system:

Almo, the Philadelphia-based appliance, CE, housewares and pro A/V distributor, is investing its savings from the Trump administration’s new tax legislation in its employees and infrastructure.

President/CEO Warren Chaiken said Almo’s newly lowered tax structure will allow it to reward its employees with an incremental bonus of $1,000, as “they are the greatest asset we have to offer as a business.”

--

The capital improvements include:

  • a new 300,000-square-foot distribution center in Philadelphia to cover the Mid-Atlantic region, plus warehouse relocations in Nevada and Ohio to larger facilities;
  • an ongoing headquarters renovation that includes a reconfigured first floor and a new 7,000-square-foot second floor that can accommodate 65 additional employees;
  • a new central office in Ft. Lauderdale for the company’s global operations and hospitality and new business groups; and

Sewickley Spa (Sewickley, Pennsylvania ) -- Pay raises; increased capital expenditures:

For the past decade, Sewickley Spa’s 13 employees didn’t receive annual raises.

With economic pressures forcing cuts at the business since the Great Recession of 2007-09, owner Dorothy Andreas said she couldn’t afford pay hikes — though she still managed to provide a bonus every Christmas.

But on Dec. 20 — the day Congress gave final approval to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — Ms. Andreas decided to “pull the trigger” on raises of 2 percent to 5 percent and bonuses that averaged 2.5 percent.

“My staff needed a morale booster,” said Ms. Andreas. She welcomes the federal tax changes because she expects them to translate to savings she can pump back into spending for new equipment and at least two more employees.

In recent years, her luxury spa — which offers massages, facials, and other salon treatments for men and women — has delayed investments in things like updated computer systems and pedicure chairs.

“I just want to put it all back into my company,” she said. “It feels like the government wants to see small business succeed and it’s like a breath of fresh air into a very stale climate.” -- Feb. 5 2018, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article excerpt

Fulton Financial Corporation (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) – base wage raised to $12 per hour; bonuses in the form of an additional week of pay for 75% of the 3,700 employees; $2 million in increased charitable donations:

Fulton Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: FULT) (“Fulton”) announced today that during 2018, it will invest an additional $2 million in the communities it serves as part of its Fulton Forward  initiative; and the company will raise the minimum wage paid to employees in addition to providing an additional week of pay at year-end to employees who do not participate in an incentive plan.

“At Fulton, we understand that our future is connected to the communities where we operate and the employees who serve them,” said E. Philip Wenger, Chairman and CEO of Fulton Financial. “It makes sense for us to share the benefits of tax reform, and we’re very pleased to be able to give back to our communities and employees.”

As a result of the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Fulton will commit an additional $2 million as part of its Fulton Forward  Initiative, which broadly supports communities across the company’s footprint. The initiative was designed to support underserved communities to create affordable housing, provide financial literacy and education programs, and to accelerate economic development.

In addition to expanding its community support, Fulton also will raise its minimum wage to $12 per hour. The company also plans to provide an additional week of pay in 2018 to employees, who are not participants in other variable-award plans. It is expected that 75% of Fulton’s approximately 3,700 employees will receive this additional week of pay.

“Giving is a cornerstone of our culture, and we already provide thousands of volunteer hours and millions of dollars of existing support to community organizations,” said Wenger. “I am thrilled that our communities and employees will benefit from the savings we will realize from the changes in our corporate tax rate.” – Jan. 18, 2018 Fulton Financial Corporation press release

ISI Financial Group (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) -- $2,000 bonuses for all employees:

At year ahead staff planning meeting in January I proudly announced to all  of our staff that because of the new tax law, that ISI is happy to share the tax savings and will providing to all staff members a $2000 bonus.  

When  announced, the staff were all taken back, very surprised and EXTREMELY grateful.This welcome tax cut for ISI Financial Group and most other companies and individuals is a welcome and prudent step toward freeing up capital for all of us to invest into our economy and great country.  I, Tim Decker, personally challenge other companies to share this gift with their employees as well. – Tim Decker, President and CEO

Sundance Vacations (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) -- $125,000 in employee tax reform bonuses:

"Sundance Vacations announced a decision to award bonuses to its employees based on the GOP tax reform bill that was recently signed into law by President Trump. Sundance Vacations president John Dowd cited two tax reform factors that he believes will positively impact company profits. “Additional take home pay for many Americans will likely lead to robust vacation sales for the company this year,” projects Dowd. “And the ability to deduct some business expenses upfront rather than depreciate them over multiple years will be a major factor for company profitability.” Sundance Vacations decided to award individual bonuses to staff members similar to corporate giants like Apple and AT&T. The immediate bonuses are in addition to the reduction in tax withholding that Americans will benefit from beginning in February. The Sundance bonuses will total over $125,000. Hundreds of other companies are also issuing bonuses nationwide which Dowd believes will inject more spending into the US economy.

Congressman Barletta commented, “The results have been clear that our tax plan will provide more opportunity for all Americans. Businesses will invest in workers and equipment, generating the historic growth that has been dormant in our nation for far too long. Americans will keep more of their paychecks, allowing them to pay bills, save for their children’s education or pay off lingering bills. I am very excited for companies in Pennsylvania like Sundance Vacations as they award bonuses because of our tax plan. The future is very bright for Pennsylvania.” – Jan. 30 2018, Sundance Vacations press release

Glass & Sons Collision Center (Reading, Pennsylvania) – $1,000 tax reform bonuses to employees.

NexTier Bank (Butler, Pennsylvania) – $1,000 bonuses for all employees; tuition reimbursement on job training; wage raises for hourly employees:

NexTier Bank, N.A. (“NexTier”), today announced an investment in its workforce with a one-time bonus of $1,000 for all employees as a result of the tax reform bill passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Trump. This is in addition to annual bonuses paid in late 2017.    

“Our employees are the key to our success and we are pleased to share this tax savings with our team. NexTier’s employees work hard to meet the needs of our customers, build relationships, and give back to the communities we serve. It’s an honor to reward them for their efforts,” stated CEO, Clem Rosenberger.

In addition to this one-time payout, NexTier is committed to providing educational and career advancement opportunities to employees on an ongoing basis with educational benefits such as tuition reimbursement, internal training, and a variety of industry training opportunities. NexTier will also make adjustments to the wages of hourly employees throughout the year.

“The tax reform bill not only allows us to invest in our employees, but to accelerate lending to small businesses, increase hiring, and enhance our charitable giving. It’s a win-win,” continued Rosenberger. “We fully expect to see significant growth, not only as a company, but throughout the local and national economy as a result of this historic legislation.” – Jan. 12, 2018 NexTier Bank press release

Noah Bank (Elkins Park, Pennsylvania) – $1,500 cash bonus to employees:

Noah Bank, a Pennsylvania-chartered community bank, has announced today that its Board of Directors has elected to provide all employees with a one-time $1,500 cash bonus thanks to the passage of new tax legislation.

CEO Edward E. Shin stated, "We are pleased to have the opportunity to reward employees with salary increases and bonuses thanks to these tax cuts.  We are proud of our dedicated and enthusiastic employees who have made Noah Bank a success."  Mr. Shin added that, "The new legislation will continue to benefit Noah Bank, our employees, our shareholders, and our customers as we progress and grow."

Congress approved tax reform legislation that reduced the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.  Noah Bank intends to pay out the bonuses on February 8.” – Feb. 2 2018, Noah Bank press release

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) -- $1,000 bonuses to 47,500 employees; an additional $1,500 in employee pension accounts; base wage hike to $15; $200 million charitable contribution:

"The tax reform law creates an opportunity to reward our employees who are working hard each day to serve our customers, build strong relationships in our communities and create long-term value for our shareholders," said William S. Demchak, PNC's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "The Board's decision to recognize our employees and support our communities is reflective of our commitment to PNC's success." – Dec. 22, 2017 PNC press release

Apple (There are nine Apple store locations in PA: Ardmore, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Whitehall, Willow Grove, and three locations in Pittsburgh) -- $2,500 employee bonuses in the form of restricted stock units; nationally, $30 billion in additional capital expenditures.

AT&T -- $1,000 bonuses to 2,141 Pennsylvania employees; Nationwide, $1 billion increase in capital expenditures.

Bank of America (Multiple locations in Pennsylvania) -- PA-based employees of Bank of America will receive $1,000 bonuses.

Cintas Corporation (Multiple locations in Pennsylvania) -- $1,000 bonuses for employees of at least a year, $500 bonuses for employees of less than a year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Multiple locations in Pennsylvania) – Bonuses ranging from $250 to $1,000; increased employee benefits; Nationwide, $50 million investment in existing restaurants.

Home Depot -- 70 locations in Pennsylvania, bonuses for all hourly employees, up to $1,000

Lowe's --13,000 employees at 84 stores and two distribution centers in Pennsylvania. Employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000 based on length of service; expanded benefits and maternity/parental leave; $5,000 of adoption assistance.

Ryder (Twenty-eight locations in Pennsylvania) – Tax reform bonuses for employees.

Starbucks Coffee Company (357 locations in Pennsylvania) – $500 stock grants for all employees, $2,000 stock grants for store managers, and varying plan and support center employee stock grants. Nationally, 8,000 new retail jobs, an additional wage increase this year, totaling approximately $120 million in wage increases, increased sick time benefits, and parental leave.

U-Haul (Multiple locations in Pennsylvania) – $1,200 bonuses for full-time employees, $500 for part-time employees.

Walmart – 63 locations in PennsylvaniaWalmart employees are receiving tax reform bonuses. Nationally, base wage increase for all hourly employees to $11; bonuses of up to $1,000; expanded maternity and parental leave; $5,000 for adoption expenses.

McDonald’s (575+ locations in Pennsylvania) – Increased tuition investments which will provide educational program access for 400,000 U.S. employees. $2,500 per year (up from $700) for crew working 15 hours a week, $3,000 (up from $1,050) for managers, and more:

McDonald’s Corporation today announced it will allocate $150 million over five years to its global Archways to Opportunity education program. This investment will provide almost 400,000 U.S. restaurant employees with accessibility to the program as the company will also lower eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment and drop weekly shift minimums from 20 hours to 15 hours. Additionally, McDonald’s will also extend some education benefits to restaurant employees’ family members. These enhancements underscore McDonald’s and its independent franchisees’ commitment to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees so they may pursue their education and career ambitions.

The Archways to Opportunity program provides eligible U.S. employees an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language.  

“Our commitment to education reinforces our ongoing support of the people who play a crucial role in our journey to build a better McDonald’s,” said Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s President and CEO. “By offering restaurant employees more opportunities to further their education and pursue their career aspirations, we are helping them find their full potential, whether that’s at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

Accelerated by changes in the U.S. tax law, McDonald’s increased investment in the Archways to Opportunity Program includes:

    • Increased Tuition Investment:
      • Crew: Eligible crew will have access to $2,500/year, up from $700/year.
      • Managers: Eligible Managers will have access to $3,000/year, up from $1,050.
      • Participants have a choice for how they apply this funding – whether it be to a community college, four year university or trade school. There is no lifetime cap on tuition assistance – restaurant employees will be able to pursue their education and career passions at their own pace. The new tuition assistance is effective May 1, 2018 and retroactive to January 1, 2018.
    • Lowered Eligibility Requirements: Increase access to the program by lowering eligibility requirements from nine months to 90 days of employment. In addition, dropping from 20 hours minimum to 15 hours minimum (roughly two full time shifts) per week to enable restaurant employees more time to focus on studies.
    • Extended Services to Families: Extension of Career Online High School and College Advisory services to restaurant employees’ family members through existing educational partners Cengage and Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).
    • Additional Resources: Career exploration resources for eligible restaurant employees to be available later this year.
    • Creation of an International Education Fund: Grants to provide local initiatives and incentives in global markets to further education advancement programs.
       

“Since its inception, Archways to Opportunity was meant to match the ambition and drive of restaurant crew with the means and network to help them find success on their own terms,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Chief People Officer. “By tripling tuition assistance, adding education benefits for family members and lowering eligibility requirements to the equivalent of a summer job, we are sending a signal that if you come work at your local McDonald’s, we’ll invest in your future.”

After launching in the U.S. in 2015, Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for over 24,000 people and awarded over $21 million in high school and college tuition assistance. Graduates have received college degrees in Business Administration, Human Resources, Communications, Accounting, Microbiology and more. – March 29, 2018 McDonald’s Corporation press release excerpt 

Wells Fargo  260 locations in Pennsylvania; raised base wage from $13.50 to $15.00 per hour; Nationlly, $400 million in charitable donations for 2018; $100 million increased capital investment over the next three years.

Note: If you know of other Pennsylvania examples, please email John Kartch at jkartch@atr.org

The running nationwide list of companies can be found at www.atr.org/list

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Tax Relief A Top Priority for Governor Ducey

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Posted by Margaret Mire on Tuesday, January 12th, 2021, 4:06 PM PERMALINK

Governor Doug Ducey is committed to delivering tax relief to the hardworking people of Arizona this year.

In his State of the State address, Gov. Ducey told Arizonans that he wants to use the 2021 legislative session to build on the pro-taxpayer record that he and the republican-controlled legislature have accomplished over the past few years. Gov. Ducey explained

“Every year I’ve been governor, we’ve improved income taxes in the taxpayer’s favor. We’ve simplified the code, lowered all rates, protected them against inflation, and eliminated an entire tax bracket. In all of this, we’ve proven that our government can fulfill every obligation, and answer the unexpected needs of a growing state, without raising taxes.

My goal has been to make Arizona the best place in America to live, work, and do business – by letting Arizonans keep more of their hard-earned money. And having come this far, as other states chase away opportunity with their new taxes, why on earth would we ever want to follow their failed and depressing example?

So I propose, in this session, we work together to reform and lower taxes and preserve Arizona’s good name as a responsible, competitive state. On tax reform, let’s think big.” 

This is great news for taxpayers across the Grand Canyon State. In addition to allowing Arizonans to keep more of their hard-earned money, pro-growth tax reform that results in a tax cut would signal to all that Arizona is still committed low taxes and limited government, and welcome to investment.

“Governor Ducey has enacted a series of laws in Arizona that have been emulated in other states: Right to Try, universal license recognition, and securing Arizonans the freedom to rent out their homes on Airbnb and HomeAway,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “It is exciting to hear that Arizona will now begin to reduce its state income tax to become the most competitive state in the country. The 40 other states with personal income taxes will be watching.”

Income taxes are consistently cited by CEOs and business owners as a key determinant of business location: the lower the rate, the more attractive the state. As more and more people and jobs continue to move into the 9 states that do not tax wage income, more and more states are looking to reduce and phase out their income taxes.

Tax reform that results in a net tax cut would be a great way for Arizona to remain a competitive state.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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