Sarasota County to Consider Project Mulligan Headquarters Relocation Incentives

In an economy where any company that wants to grow or relocate and create jobs is a blessing, it’s hard to find a solid economic development project that you are not sure you want. One such project is Project Mulligan, a proposed headquarters relocation that could bring one of America’s largest roofing companies to Sarasota County, FL.

Sarasota econdev Project Mulligan

Photo – scgov.net

Later today, the Sarasota County Commission will take up a request by the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County to approve a financial incentive grant of up to $504,000 to assist in expenses to relocate Project Mulligan’s business to Sarasota County.

The as yet unnamed company is described as a national roofing company, and their site selection decision has been narrowed down to North Carolina, Georgia and the Sarasota site in Florida.

If Project Mulligan selects Sarasota, it could bring yet another national headquarters to Florida, along with a capital investment of $450,000 and 180 jobs over five years. The company will locate in a high quality multi-story office location consistent with a headquarters location, and the committed average salary is at least $58,757, which is 150 percent of the MSA average wage.

In order to secure this project for Florida, total incentives that would be offered add up to $1,584,000. This includes $720,000 in Sarasota economic development incentives, comprised of a $216,000 local match for a Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund incentive, and another $504,000 as an Economic Development Incentive Grant.

The only issue about this project is that the local roofing industry in the region is not happy about a national roofing company being paid incentives to muscle in on their market, and then having to compete with Project Mulligan for the local roofing workforce.

A memo from the Sarasota County EDC to the County Commission addresses these concerns. Specifically, it states that “Project Mulligan’s national/ regional corporate account business model does not appear to conflict with the business models of those in our local industry. As a national company, the majority of Project Mulligan’s revenues come from national accounts…”

The memo further adds that because Project Mulligan’s proposed national headquarters does not include a roofing installation operation, they will not compete for employees in the local installation roofing workforce market. The new jobs the company would create in Sarasota are all c-level and typical headquarter support functions for the roofing industry (accounting/ HR/ IT, real estate, training, administration, etc.).

Currently, a full 98 percent of the company’s sales are generated outside of Sarasota County. The memo adds that “Nothing about the proposed headquarters and related jobs being incentivized is intended to enhance the companies roofing capabilities in our region beyond those that presently exist.”

Tampa Hillsborough EDC Among 28 Presidential “E” Award for Export Service Honorees

For the first time in the 54-year history of the President’s “E” Awards, the winners this year represented all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

E Awards

E Awards (photo – export.gov)

Out of the 123 honorees (the largest group ever) this year who received the award from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, a full 105 are small and medium-sized businesses, and 64 firms are manufacturers.

Secretary Pritzker said in a statement that “Congratulations to the 123 companies in all 50 states being honored today for their achievements in exporting.”

The President’s “E” Award is the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports. The program was initiated, or rather re-initiated, in 1961 when President Kennedy signed an executive order reviving the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America’s exporters.

U.S. exports totaled $2.23 trillion last year, accounting for nearly 13 percent of GDP and supporting an estimated 11.5 million jobs.

This year, 73 companies and organizations were honored with the “E” Award for Exports for demonstrating a sustained increase in export sales over a four-year period. The “E” Star Award for Exports, which recognizes previous “E” Awardees who have reported four years of additional export growth, was awarded to 17 firms.

Furthermore, another 28 companies and organizations that assisted and facilitated export activities and received the “E” Award for Export Service. These 28 honorees included, among others, the Florida Small Business Development Center, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Indy Chamber, the Ohio Development Services Agency, and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

In a congratulatory letter to the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Secretary Pritzker noted that “The ‘E’ Awards Committee was very impressed with the organization’s work to help exporters understand the export process and enter new international markets.” Sec. Pritzker added that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation’s dedication to promoting exports through management of trade mission programs was also particularly notable.

J.P. DuBuque, interim president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC, added that “Local companies that export help to raise Tampa and Hillsborough County’s profile as a center for global commerce and enhance our competitiveness.”

The EDC serves Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. The organization’s International Business Development program, created and led by Lorrie Belovich, provides export services for local businesses, including export counseling, strategic planning, trade missions and more.

CMMS Software Company eMaint Enterprises Expanding in Bonita Springs, Florida

eMaint, a global leader in Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS), has announced the selection of Bonita Springs, FL for a relocation and expansion project.


eMaint (photo – eMaint.com)

Supported by State of Florida and Lee County economic development incentives being provided under the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program (QTI), the company is investing over $2 million to relocate from Estero to a larger 26,000-square-foot office in Bonita Springs and expand its footprint over the next three years.

The expansion includes the creation of 150 new jobs for Bonita Springs and Lee County. These are administrative and software technology related jobs paying an average annual wage of at least $55,200, which is 150 percent of the Lee County average wage.

Governor Rick Scott said in a statement that “I am proud to announce today that eMaint has chosen Florida over New Jersey as the best place to expand and create 150 new jobs.”

eMaint, founded in 1986 in New Jersey, currently services over 35,000 users in 55 countries across nearly 4,000 customer sites. The company established its Estero, FL office in April 2012 and has additional offices in Marlton, NJ and Dublin, Ireland. eMaint currently has more than 80 employees, of which 20 are located in its Estero office.

Brian Samelson, founder and CEO of eMaint, said in the release that “Our new, 26,000 square foot office underscores our commitment to both our customers, our employees, Lee county and the state of Florida.”

Samelson added that the collaboration with officials from Lee County Economic Development has been exceptional as they planned for the expansion.

In order to secure the project, the company has been offered $900,000 in QTI incentives. This includes a contribution of $720,000 from the State of Florida, with Lee County chipping in with a 20 percent local match of $180,000 under the Lee County Job Opportunities Program. The estimated annual local economic impact of the expansion project is estimated to be $9.3 million.

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman noted that this really highlights the success their economic development office has had helping local businesses create more jobs in Lee County. “High tech jobs such as these help ensure our most talented young people will have good paying jobs, and remain in Southwest Florida to live, work, and raise a family. It’s a formula for success for Lee County,” said Commissioner Hamman.

California Governor Brown Writes to Florida Governor Scott About Economic Development, Climate Change

Yet another attack by California in the lead up to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s domestic trade mission this month to the Golden State, this time in the form of an open letter published by California Governor Jerry Brown.

CA Gov. Brown writes to Gov. Scott

CA Gov. Brown writes to Gov. Scott (Photo – Go-Biz)

In the letter, Governor Brown not only attacks Florida economic development efforts to attract relocations and the jobs of companies located in California as a political stunt, but also calls on him to start focusing on climate change.

To be specific, Gov. Brown writes that “I’m writing to welcome you back to California – a state that in the last year has added more jobs than Florida and Texas combined….If you’re truly serious about Florida’s economic wellbeing, it’s time to stop the silly political stunts and start doing something about climate change – two words you won’t even let state officials say. The threat is real and so too will be the devastating impacts.”

To hammer home the point, Gov. Brown included a recent report authored by the Risky Business Project, a climate initiative led by Hank Paulson, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. The report titled “Come Heat and High Water: Climate Risk in the Southeastern U.S. and Texas,” notes that “By 2030, up to $69 billion in coastal property will likely be at risk of inundation at high tide that is not at risk today. By 2050, the value of property below local high tide levels will increase to up to about $152 billion.”

More to the point, it comes with a bold headline on the cover that says “Risky Business – The Bottom Line on Climate Change,” making the point about the dangers of companies relocating to coastal regions that are ignoring climate change.

This latest trip to California follows Governor Scott’s previous trip last year where he announced that Nestle USA would be shifting a majority of their U.S. to Puerto Rico shipments from the Port of New York and New Jersey to JAXPORT.

Governor Scott said in a statement announcing this new trip to California that “I look forward to leading another domestic trade mission to California next month and meeting with more companies to share how we are making Florida first for jobs. I also encourage Governor Brown to join me at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference so he can hear firsthand how we are making Florida the number one place in the world for businesses and families to succeed.”

During the trade mission, Governor Scott will attend the Milken Institute’s Global Conference 2016 to discuss how Florida is making it easier for families and job creators to succeed and why businesses in California should consider moving their operations to Florida.

B. Braun Medical Brings $100M Investment and 175 Jobs to Volusia County, Florida

B. Braun Medical Inc., the world’s tenth largest medical device manufacturer, is coming to Florida. The company announced that it will be opening its first Florida manufacturing facility in Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, FL

Supported by Enterprise Florida, Team Volusia Economic Development Corporation, Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, City of Daytona Beach and Volusia County, the company is making a capital investment of $100 million at the former Baxter Pharmaceutical Solutions facility in Daytona Beach.

The project is expected to create 175 direct new jobs for Daytona Beach and Volusia County. These will be jobs with an average annual wage of $41,963, and total cumulative payroll of $37,766,025.

Braun Medical is part of the B. Braun Group of Companies, whose U.S. headquarters is located in Bethlehem, PA. The Group employs more than 54,000 employees in more than 60 countries, including about 4,700 in the United States. B. Braun Medical’s existing facilities are located in Allentown, PA and Irvine, CA.

This new facility in Daytona Beach will be a key part of helping to address the significant shortage in medical IV product solutions in the U.S. and in world markets.

The package of incentives offered to secure the project includes a 7-year ad valorem tax exemption from Volusia County with an estimated total value of $1,384,326.

Governor Rick Scott met personally with B. Braun executives during his domestic trade mission to Pennsylvania last year. In a statement announcing the project for Florida, Gov. Scott said that “I am proud to announce today that our work to bring B. Braun to Florida has paid off, and that the company has chosen Florida as the best location to grow and create 175 new jobs.”

The Governor added that this announcement shows that “our domestic trade missions are working to bring new opportunities to our state.”

Bruce A. Heugel, senior vice president of B. Braun Medical, added that “With its low taxes and business friendly environment for manufacturers like B. Braun, Florida was the best choice for expansion. We appreciate Governor Scott’s support and look forward to B. Braun’s future success in the Sunshine State.”

Teresa Rand, Chair of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, noted that “This is a great example of the type of company that will help diversify our workforce and be a catalyst to generate interest in Volusia County as a great place to conduct business.”

Florida Space Coast Secures OneWeb Satellite Manufacturing Facility

OneWeb Satellites LLC announced that it is preparing to break ground on what it claims is the world’s largest high volume satellite manufacturing factory in Exploration Park, FL, just south of the Kennedy Space Center.

OneWeb satellite production facility in Space Coast, FL

Photo – oneweb.world

Supported by the State of Florida, Space Florida, the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, Brevard County, and the North Brevard Economic Development Zone, the company is building an $85 million, 100,000-square-foot satellite manufacturing facility at this location.

The project was announced at an event by Florida Governor Rick Scott and OneWeb founder Greg Wyler. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a satellite based internet provider, and Airbus Defense and Space, the world’s second largest space company.

OneWeb Satellites will design, build and launch an extensive network of 900 small, low earth orbit satellites that will enable the delivery of internet services to every corner of the Earth at a low cost. The satellites will have less weight and better performance than much larger communications satellites, and will be manufactured at the new OneWeb Space Coast facility.

The OneWeb plant, which will start producing up to 15 satellites per week, will be the first satellite manufacturing facility in Florida, and the first in the U.S. located in close proximity to a launch site.

OneWeb expects to create nearly 250 direct new high-tech manufacturing and engineering jobs with an average wage of $65,579 within five years at the Exploration Park facility. The annual projected economic impact is estimated to be in excess of $36 million upon project completion.

Wyler said in a statement that “With this new facility we will be able to iterate, update and continuously improve the satellites design and performance, and being right at the Space Center using Virgin Galactic we will be able to launch new satellites within hours of completion.”

Brian Holz, CEO of OneWeb Satellites, added that “I’m really pleased that we have selected Florida for our new manufacturing, assembly and test operations facility. In addition to the factory development, Space Florida has also offered significant investment in our test equipment.”

Holz said that the State of Florida and Space Florida really understood their business needs and gave them an outstanding offer to locate in Exploration Park. He also noted that they anticipate many of their suppliers to locate nearby given the unique nature of their operations and the pro-business climate offered by Florida.

The EDC of Florida’s Space Coast worked on this project for over a year in partnership with Space Florida, Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), Brevard County, and the North Brevard Economic Development Zone.

OneWeb Satellites, which opened an office in Washington D.C. earlier this year, conducted a worldwide site selection process for their satellite manufacturing facility. Alabama was considered as a potential location in the United States, and Canada and France also competed for the company’s corporate investment.

EDC President and CEO Lynda Weatherman noted in the release that “Once again Brevard County is chosen to manufacture an innovative product unique to the aerospace industry, demonstrating our position as a leader in capturing the next generation of space related activities.”

Frank DiBello, president and chief executive officer of Space Florida added that “The announcement of OneWeb’s presence here at Exploration Park is one that perfectly aligns with Space Florida’s vision of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and Florida as the world’s leading space commerce center.”

OneWeb’s selection of the Exploration Park and Brevard County does build on the Space Coast’s recent string of project announcements, including Blue Origin, LLC, an aerospace company that has also chosen Exploration Park as the location where their Launch Vehicle (OLV) will be designed, manufactured, launched and ultimately returned back to Brevard County.

Jacksonville Considers $13.4M Incentives For $200M Fulfillment Center With 1500 Jobs

At a meeting yesterday, the City Council of Jacksonville, FL took up a resolution to consider pre-approving local incentives for a fulfillment center project that could bring a $200 million investment and 1,500 direct new jobs to the city.

Project Rex Jacksonville, FL

Photo – coj.net

As per a memo to the City Council from the Jacksonville Economic Development Office, this project, identified as yet only by the name of Project Rex, is said to be a company that “has more than 20 years of experience in the retail and ecommerce markets and currently employs more than 200,000 people worldwide.”

There aren’t that many ecommerce retail giants that fit this description, but let’s leave that be for now, since Project Rex is said to be currently assessing various cities across the U.S. for proposed fulfillment centers.

The proposed site in North Jacksonville is located just south of the Jacksonville International Airport, within the boundaries of the JIA Community Redevelopment Area. The company is proposing to invest up to $200 million in real and tangible personal property, and the project would result in creation of 1,500 new jobs over the next three years.

Apart from the direct jobs being created and the investment, the economic development benefits to Jacksonville include the chance to address the high unemployment rate in the JIACRA area. The unemployment rate in some parts of this area exceeds 15 percent. Hundreds of these new jobs with medical benefits and other fringe benefits will go to area residents and help reduce the unemployment rate. There’s also the fact that Project Rex will add to the list of large distribution companies establishing a facility in Jacksonville.

All told, Project Rex may get up to $4.95 million in state incentives, as follows – Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Tax Refund – $1.5 million ($1.2 million from the state and up to $300,000 from Jacksonville); Economic Development Transportation Fund (EDTF) Grant – $3 million; and Florida Flex Training Grant – $750,000.

In order to support efforts to recruit this company to Jacksonville, the City Council has been asked to approve a package of local incentives totaling $13.4 million. This includes up to $300,000 as the City’s local QTI match, a City of Jacksonville REV Grant of up to $10 million, a training assistance grant of up to $600,000, and a road improvement grant of up to $2.5 million.

The QTI refund incentives would be available for up to 500 of the 1,500 new jobs being created. These 500 eligible jobs will pay an average annual salary of at least $50,000.

Jacksonville Economic Development Project Revere is FIS Expansion

Financial services technology company FIS is expanding its operations in downtown Jacksonville, FL with the addition of more IT positions.

Jacksonville, FL

Jacksonville, FL (photo – coj.net)

Supported by a package of state and Jacksonville economic development incentives, the company plans to create 250 new jobs by 2020, and will be making a capital investment of over $2 million in the local community.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, FIS already has nearly 1,100 employees in Duval County and more than 4,500 across various locations in Florida.

FIS is a Fortune 500 company and a member of S&P 500 Index with $9.2 billion in annual revenue, generated by providing mission-critical software and IT services to institutions in the financial services industry.

Governor Rick Scott said in a statement that “Financial service companies like FIS continue to help diversify Florida’s economy which will help us become first in the world for job growth.”

Gary Norcross, President and CEO of FIS, added that “We’re very committed to Jacksonville, home of our global headquarters, and are excited to further deepen our roots in the community through the addition of these new jobs.”

The project (identified previously only as Project Revere) was secured by Enterprise Florida, working in partnership with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, City of Jacksonville, and the JAX Partnership.

In order to secure and support the FIS expansion, the company was approved to receive a Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Tax Refund program award of $1.25 million, with the State of Florida providing $1 million and the City chipping in with up to $1,000 per new job created, up to a maximum of $250,000.

City of Jacksonville economic development incentives for Project Revere also include a Recaptured Enhanced Valued (REV) Grant of up to $80,000. The State is also providing funding and support for workforce training for the new jobs being created.

The 250 new jobs the company plans to create will have an annual average wage of $49,340, and will generate additional payroll in the Jacksonville area of over $12.3 million annually, excluding benefits.

JAX Chamber Chair Audrey Moran noted that FIS executives know when they are looking to invest and grow, they don’t have to look anywhere else. “They can find the highly-skilled, information technology workers they need and a business-friendly environment right here in Jacksonville,” said Moran.

Enterprise Florida President and CEO Bill Johnson likewise said that it’s no surprise that companies like FIS are expanding in Florida. “Florida’s financial services industry is one of the best in the country and 250 new jobs is great news for the Jacksonville area,” said Johnson.

Jacksonville Economic Development Project Omega is Ernst & Young LLP Expansion

EY and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced that Ernst & Young LLP will open a client service delivery center in Jacksonville, FL.

Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young (photo – Avi1111/wikimedia)

Supported by State of Florida and Jacksonville economic development incentives, the company plans to invest $5.95 million, and expects to create 450 highly-skilled jobs over the next four years.

These will be jobs with an average annual salary of approximately $49,340, plus benefits, which means the jobs will provide at least 115 percent of the average private-sector wage in the State of Florida.

The 450 positions being created for the center will be focused on information technology, testing and risk skills to enhance the operations of clients. EY, a leading global professional services firm headquartered in London, UK, is one of the “Big Four” audit firms. EY already currently employs more than 100 people at its Jacksonville office. All told, EY member firms have more than 212,000 employees in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Shawn Smith, Partner, Southeast Financial Services Leader, Ernst & Young LLP, said in a release that “Jacksonville is a desirable corporate location, and the established financial services presence here makes the city a great fit for our newest client service delivery center.”

Mayor Curry said this expansion is an extraordinary asset to the city, and noted that “It further demonstrates Jacksonville’s continued progress in economic development and job growth.”

The project (Project Omega) was approved unanimously last month by the Jacksonville City Council. The company is getting up to $5,000 per eligible job created, up to a maximum of $2,250,000, through the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund program. Out of this, Jacksonville economic development incentives will amount to $1,000 per eligible job created, up to a maximum of $450,000. The State of Florida will pitch in with the remaining $1,800,000.

Including a training grant from the state, the total package of state and local incentives for Project Omega would add up to $3,285,000.

Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson said in the release that “This announcement is indicative of Jacksonville’s growing economic momentum as a regional hub for technology and finance sectors.”

An expansion by a prestigious firm such as EY in Jacksonville will no doubt strengthen the city’s information technology and financial services, both of which are on JAXUSA Partnership’s list of six targeted industries.

The JAXUSA Partnership is the economic development arm of JAX Chamber. Audrey Moran, Chair of the JAX Chamber, noted that “Our economic development leaders made conscious, strategic decisions to grow IT and financial services jobs in our community, and those efforts are certainly paying off.”

Florida TaxWatch Report Analyzes State’s Economic Development Programs

A report published by Florida TaxWatch, an independent nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog, takes an in-depth look at the effectiveness of the state’s incentive programs.

Florid econdev incentives report

Photo – Florida TaxWatch

The report reviews each of the major Florida economic development incentive programs, examines the return-on-investment figures published by the state, and compares Florida’s programs to those of competitor states.

In the report’s foreword, Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro says that “Florida’s business-friendly tax climate has its advantages, but this review finds that there are areas within which the state can improve relative to its competitors.”

The report warns that while Florida offers numerous economic development incentives for various economic sectors, support amongst policymakers may be waning. For FY 2015-16, the total amount of money available in the state’s economic development incentives toolkit is $43 million, which is $28 million less than the previous fiscal year.

One of the key incentive programs reviewed in the report is the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Business Tax Refund program, which has performed far above required returns on investment. QTI recipients are required to create a specified number of jobs that pay annual wages that are at least 115 percent of the average private sector wage. For fiscal years 2009-10 through 2011-12, QTI recipients created 37,103 jobs, which is 26.8 percent more than the required number. The ROI for QTI recipients is 6.9 for bundled projects and 6.8 for single projects.

In short, every $1 invested in the QTI tax refund incentive generates almost $7 in state revenue. QTI recipients have created 26 percent more jobs than they are contractually obligated to create, making QTI one of Florida’s most successful economic development incentives.

Another “deal-closer” for Florida is the Quick Action Closing Fund. QACF recipients are required to create a specific number of new jobs and make a specified minimum capital investment in order to receive the grant funds. Projects receiving QACF incentives in fiscal years 2009-10 through 2011-12 have created 5,829 jobs and made more than $555 million in capital investments so far. This represents 62 percent of the required jobs and 57 percent of the required capital investment. However, 37 of the 41 projects are still active, so the recipients have time before their negotiated due dates to create the balance of the new jobs and make the required capital investment. Every$1 invested in this incentive generates $1.10 (bundled projects) to $6.10 (single projects) in state revenue.

The report similarly outlines the performance of the Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Refund program, Innovation Incentive Fund (IIF), and the Capital Investment Tax Credit (CITC). It also reviews the state’s sales tax exemption, the Entertainment Industry Tax Credit Incentive, and several other programs.

The report goes on to highlight instances where the availability of incentives helped secure job creation projects for Florida, such as CVS Pharmacy being enticed by the QTI program to establish a distribution and logistics facility in Orange County, FL. Similarly, IMS ExpertServices narrowed down the search for their relocation to three cities, and ultimately chose Pensacola. When asked why it chose Pensacola, IMS ExpertServices’ CEO Mike Wein stated that the QTI incentive program offered by the state of Florida was a key factor in the decision.

Another example cited is space exploration firm Blue Origin’s decision to build a new manufacturing and rocket launch facility in the Space Coast region. Blue Origin’s expansion into Florida supports the claim that Florida’s tax incentive program in the field of Science and Aerospace technology are competitive with the rest of the nation.

The TaxWatch report then goes on to look at the incentive programs in other states, and shows how incentive warchests can make a difference. They cite Tennessee offering, separately, $166 million to Volkswagen and $35 million to Nissan. South Carolina offered Boeing $120 million in incentives for expansion costs and site preparation. Louisiana provided a performance-based grant of $34 million to American Specialty Alloys. Georgia likewise provided an incentives package worth $23.3 million to Mercedes-Benz to move its U.S. headquarters from New Jersey.

The report concludes that “Even with a good business and tax environment, a great climate, and a world-class workforce, for Florida to compete with states that can offer these sizeable incentive packages, it must be willing to increase the amount available for economic development efforts.”

Note that Governor Rick Scott has proposed creating a new $250 million Florida Enterprise Fund that will be more effective for winning competitive jobs projects.

Read the full Florida TaxWatch report on economic development incentives – Download (pdf)

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