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Jax Daily Record Monday, Nov. 22, 202103:40 PM EST

Cenntro Automotive’s $450,000 incentive headed to City Council

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The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee voted unanimously to support legislation for the electric carmaker’s first U.S. plant.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee voted 7-0 on Nov. 22 to support a bill authorizing a tax incentive for electric commercial vehicle company Cenntro Automotive Corp.

New Jersey-based Cenntro proposes a $25 million Northwest Jacksonville manufacturing plant.

The committee retroactively supported legislation filed last week to award a Recapture Enhanced Value grant up to $450,000 to the electric vehicle company.

The grant is a property tax refund on 50% of the additional property tax revenue that the completed project generates over five years. 

A memo and project summary drafted Nov. 15 by the city Office of Economic Development show the Cenntro facility would create at least 34 jobs with a $52,000 annual wage. 

City Council President Sam Newby is expected to introduce legislation Nov. 23 on behalf of Mayor Lenny Curry. It will include an economic development agreement with Cenntro.

According to the memo from Office of Economic Development Executive Director Kirk Wendland, the legislation was filed Nov. 17. 

Wendland told the committee the REV grant would support the $20 million in manufacturing equipment Cenntro plans for the facility.

The Cenntro Logistar 400 electric urban delivery vehicle.

He said the facility would be about 100,000 square feet which the company would lease.

An exhibit attached to the agreement says Cenntro is considering space at Lane Industrial Park at 2282 Lane Ave. N.

In addition to using JaxPort to import production materials, Wendland told the committee Cenntro also will export finished vehicles through the port. 

The agreement would give Cenntro until Dec. 31, 2023, to fill the jobs. A job creation schedule shows 15 jobs would be in place by Dec. 31, 2022.

Peter Wang, who co-founded Asia telecom company UTStarcom, founded Cenntro in 2013, according to the company’s cenntroauto.com website and LinkedIn page. 

The company reports more than 3,300 vehicles delivered to 26 counties. Cenntro estimated it will generate $2.1 billion in revenue by 2023.

Its products includes logistic and delivery, maintenance, warehouse and airport utility vehicles. 

Curry administration officials want Council to vote on the deal in December. 

According to Wendland, Cenntro hopes to decide where to build its U.S. plant by the end of the year.

City Chief Administrative Officer and committee Chair Brian Hughes said Nov. 22 that renewable energy-related industry could be a growth area for Jacksonville.

“This space is becoming something interesting for Jacksonville. We talked about it with JinkoSolar out of Cecil (Commerce Center) and things like this,” Hughes said.

 “It would be nice to kind of continue to grow the space in renewable energy and its relevant offspring.” 

 

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