Chief Economic Development Officer for Williamson, Inc. Elizabeth McCreary and Mitsubishi Motors North America COO Mark Chaffin answer questions about the tax incentive program from the Williamson County Commission in November 2019.

The Williamson County Commission on Tuesday approved a tax increment financing program for Mitsubishi Motors ahead of the company's headquarters move from Cypress, California to Franklin. The program will save Mitsubishi $31,074 in taxes annually over the next decade.

The majority of commissioners voted in favor of the tax break for Mitsubishi, with only two commissioners voting against the measure: Judy Herbert and Gregg Lawrence.

County Mayor Rogers Anderson was pleased to see the vote pass, and pointed out that the county only gives out similar tax breaks on rare occasions. He said that such measures are necessary to remain competitive against other states and counties.

"We’re proud that Mitsubishi has decided to locate into our county," Anderson said. "We’ve had a dozen [companies] that have come forward bringing many jobs to our county: The first program we did was Primus, then we went into Nissan… it helps explain the low unemployment that we have."

"I know there’s a tendency in the world we live in today [to wonder], as these companies are locating here, why do we have to do anything? Well, that’s the competitive nature of where we are in society, whether it’s another state or another city wanting these good companies," Anderson continued. "When you look at the millions of dollars they're going to bring here, and less than a half a million dollars over a 10 year-period... you have to do those [tax incentives] to help create those jobs."

Mark Chaffin, COO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, told Williamson Home Page that one of the primary reasons for choosing Williamson County for the company's headquarters was its high standard of living for families.

"We did a lot of research, we looked at several different cities and counties all across the country, and the area of Williamson County stood out as a really great place to bring a family," Chaffin said. "What's important to us is what our employees need, and it's a great family community which really stood out apart from a lot of the cities we looked at. Very reasonable cost of living, great reputation [as a] safe and secure city, and just a really great overall environment."

Herbert, one of the two commissioners who voted against the tax break, told the Home Page she has consistently voted against similar tax incentive programs such as those for Schneider Electric and Lee Company, arguing that it wasn't fair to have citizens subsidize tax breaks for large corporations.

"Nowadays we've got so many businesses, we're supplying jobs to Maury County, Marshall County, everywhere around," Herbert said. "I still feel like they may hire people locally, but are they in other counties? Then we're educating their kids if they move here, and then we end up having to raise the taxes for that, so I feel like if we give them a break, we're going to have to raise everybody's taxes, and I don't believe in that."

The new headquarters for Mitsubishi is expected to bring in 202 new jobs with an average salary of $96,000. The headquarters will still generate nearly half a million dollars in taxes for the county, with no breaks given on the amount of taxes generated that would be allotted for schools.

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