In a 7-2 vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council approved a $12.5 million tax abatement for Sweetwater Sound's expansion project on U.S. 30.
The abatement phases in business personal and real property taxes over 10 years for the $82 million development, which straddles the Fort Wayne-Allen County line. Plans for the project call for the addition of 1,009 new jobs with a total annual payroll of about $56 million.
The tax break will save the company about $12.5 million over 10 years.
A large portion of those jobs are expected to be from outside Allen County, Sweetwater founder Chuck Surack told the council. Sweetwater is the largest online retailer of musical instruments and equipment in the United States, Surack added.
“I would say about three-fourths of those (new jobs) will relocate from around the country,” Surack said. “Today, about 60 percent of our staff is from around the country. We think that will increase going forward.”
Councilmen Jason Arp, R-4th, and Paul Ensley, R-1st, were the only council members to vote against the abatement.
However, the pair rarely, if ever, vote in favor of tax abatements for any company. Arp in particular has said he would prefer to eliminate the business personal property tax altogether.
City Council's approval comes two weeks after the Allen County Council voted unanimously in favor of a $2 million tax abatement for the portion of the development, which includes a 350,000-square-foot warehouse and a 1,000-seat, 35,000 square-foot conference center in unincorporated Allen County.
Construction of the Sweetwater expansion is expected to be complete in December 2022.