The county has a history of offering tax breaks to recruit and retain employers, according to Pat Phillips, president of the Loudon County Economic Development Agency.
"Retaining existing jobs is as important as creating new jobs," Phillips said.
In 2008, Kimberly-Clark made a deal with Loudon County for a $422,234 tax break for five years. The incentive was needed to help fund an expansion at the plant that would keep jobs in the county. The company was the beneficiary of a similar tax break in 2000.
Kimberly-Clark believes in paying its fair share, according to Bob Brand, a spokesman for the company. The current appeal is a result of a companywide effort to reduce costs, he said.
In 2010, DuPont Tate & Lyle, a joint venture between DuPont and Tate & Lyle to produce glycol products from corn, requested a 50 percent tax break over five years.
The proposal annually costs the city about $120,000 and the county more than $185,000 in lost tax revenue. DuPont Tate & Lyle makes annual payments in lieu of taxes in the amount of about $61,000.
The tax abatement was an incentive to support an almost $20 million expansion of the company's Loudon facility and could result in up to five new jobs in addition to the construction jobs, Phillips told Loudon County Commission at the time.
"We have to make sure these companies are competitive globally," Phillips said. "If they are successful they will expand and create jobs."
Tax abatements are a common method of luring companies to move to the county, he said. Tennessee Packaging was offered tax incentives to bring its plant to Loudon County in 2010, Phillips said. The company, which wanted to be closer to the interstate, had been located in Monroe County for several decades.
Loudon County currently is in negotiations with a large company — code named Tango to maintain confidentiality — that could bring a "significant number" of new jobs, Phillips said. The county is looking at a variety of tax breaks, infrastructure improvements and land discounts to attract the company, he said.
Tax incentives are a "mixed blessing" said Loudon County Commissioner Bob Franke, who points out that counties who do not offer incentives can find themselves at a disadvantage.
"I'm not a big fan of (tax increment financing) and things like that, " Franke said. "You can't give away the store."
Christensen Yachts, located in Franke's district, was lured to Loudon County because of its access to a pool of skilled boat builders and Tellico Lake. The state helped build a road into the site, but the county provided no incentives. Construction of the plant, which is currently stalled because of the economy, could create 1,200 to 1,500 jobs, he said.