Economic sales tax collections on track for $3.5 million

Based on tax collections for the past nine months, the Economic Development Sales Tax approved by Jefferson County voters will generate approximately $3.5 million, the amount supporters of the tax predicted.

During a meeting of the Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors Tuesday, board chairman George Makris said he projects the tax will produce $3.493 million by the end of June. The corporation was established to administer the tax receipts.

Makris said he was surprised that more than $300,000 in taxes were collected from the countywide three-eights cent sales tax in February and March, noting that those taxes were sent to the state, which sent the proceeds back to the county in April and May.

So far, the board has paid $73,000 to Vivone Bioscience, which located in a facility at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, and another $329,000 to Horizon Foods, which acquired the former Tyson Foods plant on West Second Avenue and plans to open later this month, processing egg-laying hens, mainly for foreign markets.

Horizon Foods has currently hired 146 full time employees and plans to begin production June 28, Lou Ann Nisbett, president and CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County, said.

The company will add a second shift later, bringing total employment to 329. Nisbett said the company had 5,000 applications.

The Alliance was hired to work for the commission in attracting new businesses to the area and to assist in retaining existing businesses.

Regarding Vivione Bioscience, Makris said the company “offers great potential for this area.”

The company is working on developing technology to identify bacteria in foods in what Makris described as “a matter of hours as opposed to days or longer.”

Markis said the company’s location at the Arsenal lays the groundwork for other companies to locate there, and the company could possibly expand into the Bioplex.

“If they expand, we would love to try and help them,” he said.