NAPA Auto Parts and Moldex-Metric are looking to expand their footprints in Lebanon through multimillion-dollar investments that would bring in roughly 90 new jobs combined.

Wilson County’s Joint Economic and Community Development Board approved expansion proposals for both projects at its meeting Thursday, sending them on to the Wilson County Commission’s budget committee for review.

NAPA’s proposal is a $17 million investment expected to bring in 50 new jobs and an evening shift to the distribution center it opened in March. JECDB Executive Director G.C. Hixson said the company wants to purchase new office equipment, IT system expansions and material handling systems by the end of the year.

“They’ve come back and said yeah, we’d like to do it — we need to do it,” he said, noting that the facility had more space than NAPA originally needed. “They are one of our existing industries now, they have employees there and they’d like to spend another $17 million.”

If the county approves the proposal, the company will pay an additional $45,219 in personal property tax and receive an abatement of $309,341.

JECDB attorney Robert Rochelle said that despite the proposal coming several months after NAPA’s facility opened, the company should still qualify for a tax incentive. He added that the board discussed a potential expansion with project representatives early on.

“We agreed that we would consider the expansion and the project that was being approved at that time,” he said. “It’s my understanding that putting these two projects together, it qualifies under the incentive program.”

Moldex-Metric, an N95 respirator manufacturer, also shared its intentions to expand when announcing its move into Lebanon on Tuesday. The company is projected to start local production in early 2021 and plans to build a $6 million distribution center within 12 months.

That addition would create an estimated 40 jobs, putting the number of people Moldex-Metric expects to hire at roughly 260. The company would pay an additional $66,499 in personal property tax and receive two abatements: $670,027 in real property tax and $408,062 in personal property tax.

“I’ve researched it, and I think these are great companies,” JECDB member and Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said. “I think it’s a blessing to our county.”

JECDB staff also reported adding 10 potential business clients throughout the month of September. Hixson said the most significant new project is called Iron Giant and represents an e-commerce/logistics center.

According to the JECDB’s project activity report, the company behind Project Iron Giant is looking for a 2 million-square-foot space. Some of the other prospects include a 250,000 square foot heavy manufacturer (Project Sapphire) and a plastic injection molding facility with approximately 100-125 employees (Project Elmo).

“Activity is still good, Hixson said. “We don’t have a product for some of these buildings, some of these projects, but that’s where we are. If we don’t, we usually go back and offer them up a building to suit the type of option the contacts look at, but for the most part, projects are good and they’re some good quality businesses.”

The Wilson County Joint Economic and Community Development Board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 27, at the Wilson County Schools Administrative & Training Complex on 415 Harding Drive.

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