SCUHSD presentation

Coolidge City Manager Rick Miller talks about a proposed electric-truck plant Sept. 13, Sept. 13, at the Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District school board meeting. The board voted to support the company’s application for a foreign trade zone. The district stands to see an increase in tax money from the plant, which abuts Eloy city limits.

ELOY — A proposed semi-truck manufacturing plant in Coolidge could be a tax boon for an Eloy school district.

On Thursday board members for the Santa Cruz Valley Union High School District approved supporting a Foreign Trade Zone designation for Nikola Corp., a hydrogen-electric truck manufacturer that plans to build a massive production facility in Coolidge. Coolidge City Manager Rick Miller said the location of the plant is actually much closer to Eloy than Coolidge and is inside the high school district’s boundaries.

The facility, which is anticipated to bring more than 1,700 jobs to the region, will be located near Houser and Vail roads along State Route 87 — land that is part of Saint Holdings LLC’s inland port project.

The district stands to see a boon in property tax money when the plant is built. The land currently is zoned agricultural, which provides a smaller tax base for the district.

Supporting the FTZ designation doesn’t cost the district anything. The company hopes to be able to rezone a portion of its land into the foreign trade zone for the purposes of tax breaks. However, according to Pinal County Economic Development Manager Tim Kanavel, only a small portion of the 430 acres will hold the designation and the lower tax rate; the remainder will be taxed at the market rate.

SCVUHSD board member Thomas Gil had but one concern about the presentation: Will this turn into another PhoenixMart?

“I mean, they came in and promised a lot too ...” Gil said, trailing off.

Kanavel called what happened with PhoenixMart, a million-square-foot building in Casa Grande that’s been pledged to be a trading center for business clients, an “anomaly.”

Miller also differentiated the project from the Lucid Motors project slated for Casa Grande, saying that while both are startups, Nikola is different because 200 employees of the company already have moved to the Phoenix area.

Miller didn’t say when the semi-truck company is expected to break ground. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors is expected to give final approval to the application for the FTZ designation on Oct. 10.

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