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Jerry Mallot

Confidential Fortune 500 company's manufacturing plant would bring 500 jobs, up to $91 million investment

Project Speed

By David Chapman and Karen Brune Mathis, Staff Writers

A Fortune 500 company is seeking to build a large advanced manufacturing plant in Jacksonville, creating 500 jobs and investing up to $91 million in capital investments in exchange for $15.4 million in taxpayer incentives.

The company’s identity, though, would remain confidential until the first quarter of 2015. City officials have signed confidentiality agreements with the company for the deal simply known as “Project Speed.”

It was one of two deals announced this morning by economic development leaders.

The other is for Jax Apex Technology Inc., which wants to expand its Jacksonville presence by building a headquarters here.

Legislation for the deals will be filed today and proceed through the normal City Council process.

If passed, the confidential company is proposing to add the 500 “highly skilled manufacturing ” jobs with an average wage of $48,850.

The city would be responsible for $10 million of the $15.4 million in incentives. The state is responsible for the remaining $5.4 million.

A Recaptured Enhanced Value Grant worth $6.5 million is the largest component of the city’s amount. Paid over 15 years, the grant is equal to 75 percent of the incremental increase in property taxes the company would generate through its investment.

A new type of city incentive for advanced manufacturing was created for this deal.

Called the Economic Development Manufacturing Employer Grant, the new program will pay out $400 per employee, per year for 15 years for the deal. It’s worth $3 million and was referred to as a “bonus” to the typical Qualified Targeted Industry grant for workforce creation.

Jerry Mallot, JAXUSA Partnership president, said at one point Jacksonville was out of the running for the deal but the compilation of incentives offered “closed that gap.”

City and economic officials couldn’t disclose what other communities were in competition for the company’s services, but did say they were concentrated in the Southeast. North Carolina was named as competition in the incentive summary.

Paul Crawford, with the city Office of Economic Development, said the company would select Jacksonville if the incentives deal was approved.

The last time an incentives deal used such confidentiality was when Pilot Pen Corp. moved its U.S. headquarters to Jacksonville. It went by the code name “Pilot Grip.”

Council member Richard Clark, Finance Committee chair, said he thought other council members would be OK with the confidential nature once they saw the size and scope of the deal. He said he didn’t know which company the deal involved.

Mayor Alvin Brown was not at the announcement today, but said in a statement, “It’s not often that a city can achieve in on project these kinds of large numbers for permanent jobs and long-term capital investment. This is a Fortune 500 company that sees Jacksonville as a city of opportunity for its manufacturing business.”

Peter Anderson, president-elect of the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Association Northeast Florida Chapter, said the area has been “hit extremely hard by soft demand for office and industrial properties over the past six years.”

“A deal of this magnitude would perhaps provide confidence for others to invest in Jacksonville as well,” said Anderson, who also is vice president of Pattillo Industrial Real Estate.

In the second deal, Jax Apex Technology Inc., a local company and subsidiary of Belit Inc., is proposing to build a new 15,000-square-foot headquarters.

It employs 27 people and plans to create up to 60 additional full-time jobs and invest $5.4 million.

The company would receive $180,000 in taxpayer incentives.

Project Speed

Confidential project is for Fortune 500 company to create an advanced manufacturing operation.

• 500 jobs minimum over three years

• $48,850 average wage

• $24 million annual payroll

• $70 million to $91 million investment

• 500,000 to 1 million square feet

• $10 million city incentives maximum ($500,000 QTI, $6.5 million REV grant and $3 million Economic Development Manufacturing Employer Grant)

• $5.4 million state incentives maximum ($2 million QTI, $2.5 million Quick Action Closing Fund and $900,000 QRT grant)

Jax Apex Technology

• 15,000-square-foot corporate headquarters

• $5.4 million investment

• Create up to 60 jobs, currently 27 jobs

• $36,000 city QTI

• $144,000 state QTI

dchapman@baileypub.com

@writerchapman

(904) 356-2466

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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