Finisar gets tax abatement from Sherman

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Finisar and II-VI plan to invest $50 million in finishing out its existing Sherman production facility. The city of Sherman is offering tax abatements to assist in the project.

Sherman will be assisting Finisar and its parent company II-VI as it continues to fill out its existing facility and expands its production of electronic components in Sherman.  A 10-year tax abatement for the tech company  was unanimously approved by the City Council Monday.

The abatement coincides with the company's plans to invest $50 million in its Sherman facility, and this is the second incentive that has been offered to the tech company for its Sherman plant in 2021, following a $2.7 million incentive package that was offered by the Sherman Economic Development Corp. last month.

"The City of Sherman has been a key partner since we acquired our manufacturing facility in 2017," said Julie Sheridan Eng, senior vice president for II-VI's optoelectric devices and modules business unit, in a email. "The City has stood by our side as we made significant investments in state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing equipment and hired hundreds of highly skilled employees locally.

"We are now shipping semiconductor lasers in very high volume for use in consumer electronics such as smartphones, and we expect to continue to grow. This abatement will allow us to further strengthen our partnership with the City of Sherman over the next decade.”

City officials said the most recent investment relates to portions of Finisar's facility that were not fully built out when the company moved into the former MEMC building in late 2017.  Through this investment, the company will also equip the new space for production of electronic components, including its vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers.

This component is often used in facial recognition technology, include Apple iPhone products.

The expansion and investment is expected to generate about 120 new positions within the plant, city staff said.

The abatement will go into place next year and remain in effect for the next decade. The first five years will see 60 percent of the plant's property taxes abated. The next three years will see this abatement drop to 50 percent, and the final two years will see it drop to 25 percent.

This marks the second abatement agreement offered by the city, following one offered shortly after Finisar announced plans to move to Sherman.

"It is not as rich, I guess you might say, as the previous one because it is a smaller scope, but it would average a 50 percent abatement over this 10-year period," City Manager Robby Hefton said.

The initial agreement saw Finisar commit to $120 million in investment and about 300 jobs. Instead, Finisar invested more than $180 million and created 400 job, Hefton said.

"They've had more investment, more employees and are now are back for round two of what is a proposed $50 million project that will bring about another 120 jobs," he said.

Following the approval, Council Member Josh Stevenson spoke in regard to what he described as a total $53 million investment by Finisar. He noted that the Sherman market grown significantly in recent years and the city has seen more large investments — including a nearly $29.4 billion pledge by Texas Instruments for new facilities.

"There was a time not too long ago when a $53 million deal would prompt a lot more pomp and circumstance, and I guess this is what progress looks like because no one seems that impressed," he said, adding that he is happy to see Finisar remaining committed to the community.