ASHLAND — “This is our Intel.”

Ashland Mayor Matt Miller used the four-word sentence to convince city council to pass a tax incentive package for Charles River Laboratories.

Not that council needed any convincing.

The company, Ashland’s largest employer at slightly over 1,000 employees, announced in May it plans to build a 200,000 square-foot facility that will house 500 additional workers on its property as part of a plan to expand its footprint in Ashland.

By comparison, Intel — a California-based semiconductor chip manufacturing company — plans to invest $20 billion in a project based in Newark. It has the potential to bring up to eight factories and $100 billion to the state over the next decade, along with an estimated 20,000 jobs.

Intel’s project has a few more zeros attached to it. But Charles River’s project, valued at $212,578,090, is still significant to Ashland, officials said Tuesday.

“This is a company that could go anywhere,” said Council President Steve Workman. “But they chose Ashland for their expansion.”

Council unanimously approved a 10-year, 75% tax abatement for the project. The agreement means Charles River will pay only 25% of the property taxes generated from the new development for 10 years.

The Ashland County Board of Commissioners followed suit on Thursday, also unanimously approving of the tax abatement during its weekly meeting.

The expansion, touted as the largest Ashland has ever seen, will increase Charles River’s payroll by $24 million, according to the ordinance council passed Tuesday.

The pharmaceutical and biotechnology company has said the new facility will serve as a standalone laboratory that will also feature a fitness center, meditation room and increased space for employee interaction.

Construction is set to begin in July, pending the approval of additional tax incentives from the state and county. The Ashland County Board of Commissioners will also need to vote on the 75% tax abatement council just approved.

Charles River also expects to receive a seven-year extension to its current Ohio Job Creation Tax Credit, which offers companies a refundable and performance-based tax credit that is calculated as a percentage of created payroll.

Miller said Charles River approached him and city officials around six months ago about the project, which at the time was undetermined on a location.

“I think the strongest part of our pitch was that I could say we’re adding new housing units,” Miller said. “Having new homes and apartments, that’s how these companies draw new employees here.”

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