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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 11, 202208:00 PM EST

City Council OKs $7 million incentive for J&J Vision Care expansion

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The company plans a $200 million expansion to its existing Jacksonville contact lens manufacturing operations and add 100 jobs.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

The Jacksonville City Council unanimously approved an up to $7 million property tax refund for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.’s proposed $200 million local manufacturing expansion.

Council voted 17-0 on Jan. 11 in favor of a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant for J&J Vision’s plant to increase its contact lens plant capacity and add 100 jobs. 

Council member Randy White was absent for the vote. 

J&J Vision makes nearly 1.7 billion disposable contact lenses a year at the Jacksonville plant, which is on almost 69 acres at 7500 Centurion Parkway in Deerwood Park.

JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development arm of JAX Chamber, says on its website that J&J Vision has 1,800 workers in Jacksonville. 

The Duval County Property Appraiser shows the company has about 1.058 million square feet of space on the site comprising corporate offices, a research and development laboratory, manufacturing and distribution uses as well as The Vision Care Institute.

J&J Vision told the city that the capital investment would include machinery, equipment and infrastructure.

The grant will refund 50% of the new property tax generated by the expansion over the next 10 years. 

According to a project summary from the city Office of Economic Development attached to the bill, the 100 jobs would pay an average annual wage of $65,000, creating a  $6.5 million annual payroll, excluding benefits.

The economic development agreement with the city will require J&J Vision to have the jobs in place by Dec. 31, 2024, to receive the tax incentive.

Economic development officials calculated a $2.07 return for every $1 invested in the project, according to the summary.

J&J Vision considers the city incentives a material factor in expanding its Jacksonville operation as opposed to its contact lens facility in Limerick, Ireland, or other locations.

The proposal would be J&J Vision’s third expansion in the past eight years.

J&J Vision has been producing contact lenses in Jacksonville since it acquired a local company called Frontier Contact Lenses in 1981.

It expanded the business into other eye care products with acquisitions beginning in 2016.

The city is paying on REV grants awarded in 2014 and 2016 for expansion of the same facility, according to the project summary.

Council approved a $7.1 million REV grant for J&J Vision in 2015 for a $300 million, 100-job expansion. 

The state pledged a tax credit of 5% of J&J Vision’s total capital investment for that expansion. That incentive will be paid over 20 years and is estimated to be $90.3 million toward any state corporate income tax liability owed by J&J.

The city issued a permit in March 2020 for the $24 million, two-story, 15,421-square-foot building as part of a $30 million plant expansion.

Council also awarded J&J Vision Care a $6.9 million REV grant in 2013 for an expansion. 

In July, the company reported second-quarter sales rose 70.1% from 2020 to $1.183 billion as the market recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact lens sales rose 56.7% to $868 million, while J&J Vision’s eye surgical products business more than doubled in revenue. 

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