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- 2012 - September - 7th -

L&J Diesel Service wants to grow, will seek City assistance

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

L&J Diesel Service Inc., a Jacksonville-based company that specializes in fuel injection innovation and manufacturing in the diesel industry, is seeking City assistance as it attempts to grow all aspects of its business. 

The expansion, an anticipated move from its 4,000-square-foot facility at 5323 Lenox Ave. to the two-story, almost 70,000-square-foot location at the old Barnett Brass & Copper building at 3333 Lenox Ave., would allow for such a change.

It could also potentially mean anywhere from 50-200 new jobs, depending on the types of contracts the company receives, L&J owner Omar Cueto and engineer Syd Azhar said.

“We’re ready to blow up,” Cueto said.

The two, along with City Office of Economic Development Acting Director Paul Crawford, met with City Council members Warren Jones, Bill Gulliford and John Crescimbeni on Wednesday for a presentation of the company’s products, services and goals while explaining some of its needs for the expansion.

The presentation to Council members was titled “Economic Development by Manufacturing Again in Jacksonville.”

L&J specializes in testing, producing and manufacturing diesel fuel injectors that use patented light and fiber-optics components for greater efficiency.

“Nobody in North America has quite the elements we have,” Cueto said.

He said that expanding to ecommerce 11 months ago, the business has grown tremendously and the company is seeking to continue its progress in areas such as manufacturing, sales and research and its development component, called Dieselogic.

“These are the kind of jobs we desperately need,” said Jones, whose district contains the business and would also contain the relocation.

Cueto said following the presentation that he is working with Crawford and the City toward a grant that would help with the expansion, specifically for specialty equipment needed for his industry that can be expensive.

He declined to discuss specific numbers regarding incentives, but said if the effort was successful “everyone will know about it.”

One possible incentive could be a “Revenue Enhanced Value” grant, which is an incentive based on increased taxes generated by property improvements and is paid after a company pays its taxes. Also, participation in the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program, which is paid by the state and City, would be available for created jobs.

Cueto also said the potential relocation spot lies within an enterprise and empowerment zone and is also within a Historically Underutilized Business Zones area. The HUBZone program, through the Small Business Administration, “helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities,” according to the administration’s website.

Cueto said that opportunity will help L&J in its business dealings with the military, which could also expand with the additional room.

Crawford said after the meeting that the City and company would need to work out its deal first before discussing particulars. During the meeting, he told Council he hoped to bring them “something soon,” which could be with details. The Office of Economic Development negotiates incentives deals with businesses looking to expand. Deals must be Council approved.

The business was started by Cueto’s father, Luis, and uncle, Joaquin, before it moved to Jacksonville in 1974 and stayed in the family until Cueto took over.

“What we have here is real … it’s taking a small business that has grown up here in Jacksonville, basically, and growing it,” Cueto said.

He said he would like to have the move accomplished in the next six to eight months.

dchapman@baileypub.com

356-2466

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