Bell wants school tax breaks to put a $429 million plant in far north Fort Worth

Bell is considering building a manufacturing plant in far north Fort Worth.

The Fort Worth-based company is looking at several sites including a 447,373 square foot building at at 15100 N. Beach St. in Alliance, according to its application for a state tax incentive program.

The Jobs, Energy, Technology and Innovation Act program allows companies to make deals with the governor’s office and local school districts to reduce a portion of the company’s school property taxes. It was created by House Bill 5, which was passed by the state Legislature at the end of the 2023 legislative session.

Bell is asking to pay no school property taxes between 2024 and 2028 during the plant’s construction. After that, the company would get a 50% tax break between 2029 and 2038 on a portion of its property tax bill paid to the Northwest school district, according to the application.

In exchange, the company would create 75 jobs paying an average salary of $69,784, according to the application. It would also invest $429 million in both construction costs and machinery to get the plant up and running.

Bell estimates this will generate $87 million in property taxes for the school district over 40 years.

The company’s application also alludes to tax breaks and grants from both the city of Fort Worth and the Texas Enterprise Fund, however, its not clear if those funds have already been secured.

“The City of Fort Worth is aware that Bell has applied for state incentives in compliance with the new application requirements for the JETI program. However, we cannot comment further on ongoing active projects that remain competitive with other sites,” a city spokesperson said in an email to the Star-Telegram.

Representatives from Bell did not immediately respond to an email and phone call from the Star-Telegram requesting comment.

Fort Worth’s economic development department usually presents proposed economic incentive agreements to the City Council at bi-monthly Tuesday afternoon work sessions before the council votes to approve any proposed agreement.

As of Friday, there are no scheduled economic incentive presentations for the March 5 city council work session.

The state comptroller’s office has 60 days to evaluate the application before making a recommendation to the governor’s office about whether to move forward. If the comptroller gives the green light, the Northwest school district must hold a public meeting within 30 days about the whether to approve the agreement.

Representatives for the school district wouldn’t comment on Bell’s application other than to say in an email that the district is familiar with the application and is interested to see how the process unfolds with the comptroller’s office.

Bell still could go elsewhere to build its plant. Texas is one of three states the company is considering, and getting a property tax break would make the state considerably more competitive, Bell said in its application.

Bell employs roughly 4,000 people throughout the Metroplex. In December 2022, the company was awarded an estimated $7.1 billion contract by the U.S. Army to build the next generation of attack helicopters. It broke ground in March 2023 on a $20 million plant in Grand Prairie to assemble and test the new helicopters.