Economic Development

William S. Mendenhall
 

Baker Donelson’s unique history and geographic diversity allow the Firm to bring together lawyers of varied backgrounds and perspectives to make remarkable contributions in the area of economic development. We provide our clients with a firm that is local in its experience, history and relationships, yet truly regional in its capacities, practice quality and capabilities. The Firm's public law, public finance, business and real estate practices have converged during the past decade to produce one of the most evolved and comprehensive economic development practices of any firm in the southeastern United States. Each of these practice areas make Baker Donelson uniquely qualified to represent industrial and commercial concerns in partnership with state and local governments throughout the Southeast.

For many years, Baker Donelson has maintained one of the leading business and commercial real estate practices in the South. Our lawyers routinely represent businesses in connection with manufacturing and warehouse projects, commercial and retail developments, and housing developments throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. Our projects have included automotive plants, warehouse and shipping facilities, shopping centers, mixed-use developments, and water and sewer infrastructure developments.

Likewise, our public law practice in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Washington, D.C., has created invaluable relationships in municipal, county, state and federal government. The Firm serves as general counsel and special counsel to a wide variety of governmental entities. This work includes not only routine governmental representation, but also traditional and non-traditional public finance projects and public infrastructure projects, such as potable and industrial water systems, transportation corridors, intermodal facilities, airports, and waste water collection and treatment systems. Because of our experience in these areas, our attorneys have the unique perspective of viewing economic development projects through the eyes of public bodies as well as the private sector.

Baker Donelson's public finance lawyers have served as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, issuer's counsel, trustee's counsel, bond insurer's counsel and credit enhancer's counsel in virtually every area of both tax exempt and taxable public finance throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Combining these disciplines allows Baker Donelson to participate in many of the most significant economic development projects in the southern United States. Our practice experience in this area includes:

  • Drafting state and federal incentive legislation for the benefit of a variety of industries.
  • Structuring public-private partnerships and securing incentive packages from local and state governments.
  • Negotiation of agreements for payments in lieu of taxes for businesses in various industries and locations.
  • Implementing local, state and federal incentive packages.
  • Developing and implementing tax-exempt financing vehicles.
  • Assisting in the negotiation of traditional and non-traditional financing alternatives.
  • Accessing grant funds available for construction of public and quasi-public infrastructure.
  • Assembling, negotiating and closing the acquisition of real estate and related easements required for new facilities.
  • Negotiating with state and local utility companies for contracts to provide for the construction of utilities infrastructure and for the provision of utilities, including water, sewer, electricity, gas, and telecommunications.
  • Working with state and county officials for the construction of roadway improvements.
  • Negotiating with local governmental authorities to obtain special zoning ordinances.
  • Advising on all aspects of environmental compliance and permitting.
  • Negotiating and implementing construction contracts, including the negotiation of project management and general contractor agreements, oversight of the bidding process, negotiation of contractor packages, and resolution of change order and pay request disputes.
  • Guiding businesses through state workforce programs and incentives.
  • Drafting and negotiating supply contracts.
  • Providing on-site labor and employment training programs.
  • Assisting with state and local tax compliance and reporting procedures, and addressing state taxation issues unique to large-scale economic development projects.

Our economic development representation includes our service for many years as the primary outside counsel assisting state agencies in economic development projects throughout Mississippi. In this role, Baker Donelson attorneys helped in developing incentive packages for numerous automotive companies, as well as companies in other industries, considering sites in Mississippi. Similarly, we have represented a number of local governmental entities such as the Industrial Development Board of Hamilton County, Tennessee in a wide variety of projects benefiting industries in specific geographic areas. Examples of private sector representation include the prime contractor in connection with Honda's recently completed Alabama plant. In that role, we were responsible for the negotiation and documentation of all plans, specifications and contracts, as well as the negotiation and resolution of all issues with vendors and suppliers. Likewise, we represented a major Japanese subsidiary in the acquisition of the site for its new $200 million truck and axle manufacturing plant in Marion, Arkansas. We were lead counsel for the client in all aspects of this project, from initial property acquisition through plant completion.

We also assisted the parent corporation for a major truck line manufacturer in the site selection process for the company’s first North American engine plant. Ultimately, on behalf of this client, we successfully negotiated a $48 million incentive package from the State of Mississippi, in connection with the client's selection of its new site in Columbus, Mississippi.

This broad background provides the Firm with unmatched experience in understanding and resolving the issues facing manufacturers, suppliers, commercial and residential developers, retailers and many other businesses, when locating, developing and constructing new facilities. Our experience has enabled us to build permanent, positive relationships with the individual state and local officials who will be responsible for implementing state law and policy with respect to the granting of incentives and regulating businesses locating anywhere in the South.

Representative Matters

  • Represented prime contractor in connection with Honda's Alabama plant in negotiation and documentation of all plans, specifications and contracts, as well as the negotiation and resolution of all issues with vendors and suppliers.
  • Served as lead counsel for a major Japanese subsidiary in the acquisition of the site for its new $200 million truck and axle manufacturing plant in Marion, Arkansas.
  • Represented a Tennessee city and county in negotiating incentive package for a $250 million heavy manufacturing facility involving a $97 million state grant as well as $40 million in city and county grants.
  • Represented the parent corporation for a major truck line manufacturer in the site selection process for the company’s first North American engine plant, successfully negotiating a $48 million incentive package from the state of Mississippi, in connection with the client's selection of its new site in Columbus, Mississippi.
  • Served as primary outside counsel assisting state agencies in economic development projects throughout Mississippi, developing incentive packages for numerous automotive companies, as well as companies in other industries, considering sites in Mississippi.
  • Represented international medical device manufacturer in tax, real estate and incentive work relating to relocation of 120,000-square-foot, 300-employee facility in Tennessee. Incentive types included tax abatement, franchise and excise tax incentive; ad valorem (property tax) incentives, utility incentives and city, county and state grants.
  • Represented a leading global engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) company which executes complex offshore oil and gas projects worldwide, in locating a major facility at the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport. The Firm's work has included negotiating a confidentiality and nondisclosure agreement, drafting and negotiating a memorandum of understanding among the parties, drafting and negotiating a lease of port facilities among the parties and negotiating tax and economic incentives with MDA.
  • Assisted global apparel manufacturer in a $276 million expansion of the company's facility in Memphis, working with local and state departments, agencies and elected officials, as well as the seller of the property and the Memphis Regional Chamber on the incentives package.
  • Represented global apparel manufacturer in a relocation engagement that doubled the footprint of its distribution center in Northern Mississippi. Handled all negotiations for incentives that included ad valorem, Rural Economic Development (RED Act) bonds, credits against employee and corporate income taxes, utility incentives, infrastructure grants and other grants from local communities.
  • Represented a personal care products manufacturer in its relocation and expansion to a million-plus square-foot warehouse in Desoto County, Mississippi. Incentives included ad valorem, Rural Economic Development (RED Act) bonds, credits against employee and corporate income taxes, utility incentives, infrastructure grants and other grants from local communities.
  • Advised client on site selection and incentive options for relocation of health care facility to consolidate clinical, surgical and administrative locations, including Mississippi health care industry zone incentives, with a total project cost estimated at $20 million.
  • Served as a member of the site selection team that resulted in the development of an integrated gasification combined cycle plan in Kemper County, Mississippi.
  • General counsel to a number of alcohol manufacturing clients in site selection and expansion projects.
  • Represented food manufacturing company in government relations project which involved negotiating agreements necessary to obtain $1.75 million in state and county grant funds from the state of Georgia and Harris County to purchase equipment for the addition of production lines, as well as negotiating a contract for a 16-mile natural gas pipeline extension to the plant.
  • Represented developer client in connection with the $20 million construction bond financing and $30 million permanent financing for a HUD mixed finance project in Louisiana that included low income housing tax credits and GO Zone bond financing, and involved numerous construction contract and bonding issues designed to maintain the priority and ranking of the original surety bonds, zoning, survey and title insurance issues.
  • Negotiated a Brownfield Agreement for the developer/purchaser, which is redeveloping a former hospital site in Knoxville for a multi-use, multi-million dollar development.
  • Serve as outside counsel to several rural industrial development boards (IDBs) in Tennessee, including:
    • Representing West Tennessee IDB for more than 15 years. In that period, this IDB has developed two industrial parks which have rail and airport access. Negotiated public sector incentives.
    • Representing Northwest Tennessee IDB in its effort to attract a manufacturing facility. Project involves negotiation of property tax incentives, new market tax credits, a $4 million state grant and city and county grants as well.
    • Representing multiple IDBs in bond issues.