Epic Sports plans to move out of Wichita, although city leaders don’t seem miffed about the idea.
The online-based team sporting goods supplier is in the process of working out a move to Butler County because it has outgrown its space at the former Coca-Cola plant at 3001 E. Harry, according to city documents.
The catch is that the business will be required to pay the city of Wichita around $60,000 in taxes, which were abated as part of a 2012 agreement tied to the acquisition and renovation of the old bottling plant.
If Epic leaves Wichita by the end of 2017 – which it expects to do – it will be required to pay the city 55 percent of all taxes abated beginning in 2013, according to a measure passed by the City Council on Tuesday. The original tax agreement with the city was for 10 years.
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City Council member James Clendenin, who represents southeast Wichita, said the pending departure of Epic Sports can actually be seen as positive for both parties.
“In a way, it’s bittersweet to be losing a fast-growing company from southeast Wichita,” Clendenin said. “On the other hand, they invested $2.5 million into a building that wasn’t usable at the time. They’ll be leaving that building in a way that will make it very attractive for another business to move in.”
Mark Detter, Andover’s city administrator, said the company has identified a parcel of land near the intersection of U.S. 400 and Indianola Road, though he said a number of details remain for any deal to be completed.
“Wichita has really been a regional team player in this,” Detter said. “They recognized that it was going to be better to keep this business and its employees in the Wichita regional footprint.”
As part of the 2012 agreement between Wichita and Epic, the business was expected to grow its workforce from 41 to nearly 70 over five years, though it now employs 110, according to city documents.
Epic owner Gary Proctor, who founded the company in 1998, was not available for comment Tuesday, according to an Epic representative. Clendenin said that in 2012, the company was looking at possible relocation to Hutchinson or Oklahoma, though it eventually decided to remain in Wichita.
“I think it’s great that the Wichita region is the only part of this discussion right now,” Clendenin said. “It’s very important that we keep jobs here. This is a win-win.”