Scott County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a nine-year tax abatement for the Internet firm Shutterfly Inc., which plans to expand in a $60 million facility in Shakopee.
Construction on the new plant at the Dean Lakes business park is slated to begin next month, with occupancy expected next summer.
The commissioners’ vote was another key step in luring the fast-growing Internet company to the south metro community, a process that included a recent visit from Gov. Mark Dayton and others to the firm’s California headquarters.
Shutterfly plans to create 329 full-time jobs in Shakopee over the next two to five years with an average hourly wage of $18.78. In addition, just over 200 people would work on a seasonal basis, according to city documents.
Gretchen Sloan, a spokeswoman for Shutterfly, said in a statement, “We are pleased with the support from city and state officials and look forward to finalizing our plans so we can break ground and bring hundreds of jobs to Shakopee.”
The county’s action is part of a package of economic incentives totaling $3 million from the city, county and state for the maker of digital photo and paper products. State loans and grants totaling $1.4 million are still in the approval process, however.
“We are close to the end of the process,” said Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke. “This is just extraordinary news for Shakopee, Scott County and the greater [Minneapolis-St. Paul] area.”
The county tax abatements are valued at $551,159 to $734,878, and an agreement to allow the Redwood City, Calif.-based firm to use the county’s fiber-optic infrastructure to defray data transfer costs was also approved.
The commissioners’ move comes after Shakopee’s City Council approved a tax-abatement package earlier this month valued at $569,078 to $758,771, also over a nine-year period. That deal also includes sewer access charge credits valued at about $174,000.
The actions also come after Dayton, Tabke and other government officials met in secret with Shutterfly CEO Jeffrey Housenbold to discuss the possible expansion in Shakopee, although reports of the visit were subsequently confirmed by the governor.
“The governor’s trip was extremely important for establishing a rapport with Shutterfly,” Tabke said.
Shutterfly, founded in 1999, has annual revenue of about $500 million and has become a well-known supplier of customized photo albums and other personalized stationery products ordered online. It made headlines this month with the release of an iPad app that allows customers to create and order products by using the mobile device.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has given preliminary approval for Shutterfly to receive a $1 million Minnesota Investment Fund forgivable loan, and $400,000 in matching grants from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership program.