A radioactive isotope manufacturer is one step closer to receiving a significant tax abatement after a Columbia City Council work session Monday night.
Northwest Medical Isotopes is asking for a Chapter 100 real and property tax reduction of 50 percent over 10 years. The facility, which would be built in Discovery Ridge Research Park, is estimated to cost $108 million, including $50.5 million allocated for the building and a $9 million contingency fund. Northwest estimates its new headquarters will create 104 jobs in Boone County with a pay rate of about $35 an hour.
The company will be working with the MU Research Reactor to produce the radioactive isotope Molybdenum-99, which is used to diagnose cancer and other diseases. It is not currently produced anywhere in the U.S.
Ralph Butler, a representative for Northwest Medical Isotopes, said at Monday’s session that the cost of construction fits the complexity of the building. He also described what the facility would do.
“The objective of Northwest Medical Isotopes is to produce a radioactive substance on a weekly basis about the size of that Sprite soda can there,” Butler said, gesturing to a can in front of City Manager Mike Matthes.
Dave Griggs, chair of the Regional Economic Development Inc. incentives subcommittee, said the facility would be strictly regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and added that MU’s reactor already produces two radioactive pharmaceutical drugs.
Griggs also explained the process of assessing the facility for the tax abatement. He said that Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker told him it would be difficult to determine the facility’s assessed value. Griggs said that assessments usually come out of comparisons from businesses in similar markets, but Northwest Medical Isotopes has only one or two comparable facilities in the world.
Instead, Griggs said, the county will assess the facility’s cost — around $90 million — and if the Chapter 100 abatement is approved, the assessed value would be $45 million. That would lead to an estimated $381,350 per year gain for the city once the facility is completed, he said. Columbia Public Schools could receive $5.6 million.
Northwest Medical Isotopes hopes to start construction later this year, which would be completed in 2020. The facility would begin operating in 2021.
Mayor Brian Treece said at the work session that he thinks the facility is a “fantastic” addition to Columbia.
“This is exactly the type of thing we look for,” he said. “I intend to support (the Chapter 100 abatement).”
The Chapter 100 abatement will ultimately be decided by the Boone County Commission. The Chapter 100 Review Board, which includes representatives from the city council, school board and library district board among others, will recommend to the commission whether to approve the abatement.
The school board and the library district board have agreed to advance the request.
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