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Fond du Lac County Board borrows and taxes to help keep Mercury Marine

The Fond du Lac County Board has agreed to borrow $50 million to help its largest employer stay in town. And they approved a 0.5 percent sales tax to pay off the loan. It's part of an effort to keep Mercury Marine afloat.

The company's union did its part last Friday, by approving contract concessions which Mercury said were needed to prevent moving 850 jobs to its non-union plant in Oklahoma.

Now, those jobs will stay. And the maker of outboard motors announced Wednessday it would add another 750 jobs over the next seven years, many of which would come from the Stillwater plant in Oklahoma.

The County Board agreed to loan Mercury the $50 million it borrowed. But $9 million would not have to be paid back if the plant's current jobs stay around for at 12 years.

And millions more would not have to be paid back if Mercury grows as it promised. The sales tax will begin next April. It was approved on a 16-2 vote.

Tonight, the Fond du Lac City Council will act on another $3 million in aid for Mercury Marine. The state is also working on an incentive package and those talks continue.

Local economic development officials say Mercury is on the edge of creating a new type of outboard motor which could pave the way for future growth.