City working on Project Colgate and Project Fission: JAX Chamber CEO won’t identify, but expects some decisions in 60 days
In addition to the potential FedEx Ground Package System Inc. project for Jacksonville, speculation continues about other deals, fueled in part by at least two code-named ones — Project Colgate and Project Fission.
Those unidentified projects are surfacing in public records, with few hints about size or nature.
Could they be linked to speculation about 1 million-square-foot and 500,000-square-foot projects?
Sources have said that the 500,000-square-foot project could be FedEx, although the international package shipper hasn't confirmed the size of a possible project.
Based on the public calendars for Office of Economic Development executive Joe Whitaker, discussions about Project Colgate include staff, the state Department of Economic Opportunity, Enterprise Florida, the JAX Chamber's JAXUSA Partnership and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.
Project Fission involves an Enterprise Florida manager of business development in the logistics and supply chain area. It appears to be imminent. A Feb. 19 discussion scheduled at the Office of Economic Development concerned its "single-read timing" in City Council.
Project Jaguar also continues to show up on calendars, but that already has been identified as the Body Central Corp. relocation from Southside to North Jacksonville.
Don't consider the code name as a giveaway for the corporate identification.
JAXUSA Partnership President Jerry Mallot, who is interim CEO of the JAX Chamber, said Project Colgate is not named after the product.
But that's about all he said about it.
"I couldn't shed any light on any project. Of course it's confidential and I just wouldn't be able to speak to any project by name or company," Mallot said.
The code names are reminiscent of those of years past, such as Project Believe, which was Sikorsky Support Services; Project Mill, which was Annandale Millwork & Allied Systems; Project Meridian, which was Volvo Parts North America; and Project #05-00220, which was Fidelity National Financial.
Project Mill was the closest code name for the real deal.
Project Bobsled wasn't too far off, but was far enough. It was a 2003 deal for BellSouth Long Distance to set up a customer service and technical operations center in Southside.
Project Blue Bell wasn't the ice-cream distribution center; instead it was a 2002 proposal, which didn't choose Jacksonville, for a DaimlerChrysler plant in Cecil Commerce Center.
Then 20 years ago, there was the memorable Project Rosewood, a code name associated with a proposed Mercedes-Benz plant that needed 100 to 500 acres and would employ 1,500 people when production started in 1997. It was a huge deal and generated front-page headlines. It ended up in Alabama.
Could Colgate be related to household or personal care products? Could Fission, which is defined as "the action of dividing into two or more parts," be related to energy? The definition of fission also is "when the nuclei of atoms divide into two parts and there is energy created by the split, this is an example of fission."
"You will see in the next 60 days several projects come to fruition," Mallot said.
"It's looking pretty good. We have a number of projects that are nearing closure or final decisions," he said. "We are off to a good start."
Mallot said the prospects operate among industries such as logistics, financial services, information technology and manufacturing.
"We have a good balance of companies looking at us in general and nearing a final decision," he said.
Mallot said the majority of the current prospects are new to the market and their projected jobs range from 30 to several hundred.
JAXUSA Partnership represents the seven counties of Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns.
Many of the prospects are considering Duval because of its inventory of existing available buildings, he said.
Mallot declined to provide the latest prospect count in advance of next week's first-quarter JAXUSA Partnership event.
The chamber typically updates the latest announcements and prospect activity at the quarterly events.
The speaker will be Dave Brown, president of the Americas for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc., which includes the Vistakon contact-lens plant in Jacksonville's Southside.
The chamber generally serves as the private-sector partner in area economic development. It works with the state, the City and other area governments when incentives and regulatory assistance are negotiated.
Mallot said the 2013 goal is to create more than 3,000 jobs. He said the economic development efforts generated more than 3,000 jobs last year in the partnership area, exceeding the goal of 2,500.
A state statute allows companies working with Florida economic development agencies to apply for confidentiality, which prohibits agency employees from discussing the deal until it becomes public or they are otherwise permitted to talk. The statute says violators are committing a misdemeanor.
Mallot said code names, which shield a prospect's identity for competitive or business reasons, emanate from several sources.
Mallot said companies sometimes determine the code name or a site consultant will come up with it.
The state of Florida might name it if negotiations begin at that level, or else the JAXUSA Partnership or an agency with a partner county might be the source of the name.
"Once we name it, then everybody agrees," he said.
"It is not named after the product," he said.
A FedEx Corp. spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that FedEx Ground Package System Inc. is considering a project in Jacksonville, but did not confirm the details circulating among those who are hearing about the search.
"I can confirm FedEx Ground is looking into something in the Jacksonville area, but nothing is confirmed," said Jesse Bull, FedEx communications coordinator.
Speaking of jobs
As expected, BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards Mayport LLC issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Notice about layoffs.
BAE filed a layoff notice Tuesday with the state that it might lay off 100 employees starting April 1. The industry is manufacturing.
BAE has said that the federal budget cuts due Friday among domestic and military programs, known as sequestration, are the reason for the layoffs.
Because of the Budget Control Act, the federal government must cut $85 billion over the coming months unless Congress intervenes.