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Wahl Clipper building new headquarters in Sterling

State incentives help keep project in state

STERLING – Wahl Clipper Corp. will reinvest in Sterling, with the help of a state economic development incentive program targeting businesses that are considering projects in another state.

Wahl announced Thursday it will build a new $8.5 million corporate headquarters building on its Sterling campus. The maker of personal care devices will start construction on the 40,000-square-foot building this spring and wrap up the project before year’s end.

Wahl has promised the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that the expansion will create at least five jobs and allow it to retain the 114 workers at corporate headquarters. The company employs nearly 900 in Sterling, and about 2,000 worldwide.

In return for its job creation promise, Wahl qualifies for a tax credit through the state’s Economic Development for a Growing Economy program.

One of the EDGE program requirements is that the company provide documentation about the out-of-state option available to them. Wahl’s documented offer for its headquarters project came from Iowa. The rest of the local operations would have remained in Sterling.

“The company was looking at an alternative site across the river in Bettendorf, Iowa,” DCEO spokesman Dave Roeder said.

Wahl was given a waiver on another program requirement. A company must agree to invest at least $5 million in capital improvements and create a minimum of 25 full-time jobs in Illinois. For a company with 100 or fewer employees, the company must agree to make a capital investment of $1 million and create at least 5 new full-time jobs in Illinois.

Just counting employees at headquarters, Wahl is still 14 over the 100 employee maximum for creating just five jobs. The DCEO decided to provide some wiggle room on the job creation number.

“We did give them a waiver on that requirement, because they were very close to the employee number, and they were far above the investment minimum,” Roeder said.

In addition to the EDGE credit, Wahl will receive an investment tax credit and a sales tax exemption for building in an enterprise zone. The incentives are worth a total of $1.6 million over the next 10 years.

While the incentives played a big role in Wahl’s decison to build the headquarters here, there were other factors at play, the company said.

“It also underscores our belief in the region as a good place to live and do business,” Wahl CEO Greg Wahl said.

The expansion serves two main purposes – to accommodate future growth, and to better showcase a company with a growing global footprint.

“The new facility frees up a great deal of space in our current facilities to allow us to continue to grow and prosper,” Wahl said. “It will also provide a state-of-the-art corporate facility as a showplace to our worldwide customer base.”

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-Moline, said he hopes Wahl will be an example of how businesses can benefit from locating in Illinois.

“I am excited that Wahl ... is not only staying in Illinois, but expanding its facilities in Sterling, and bringing more jobs to the area,” Jacobs said.

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