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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 21, 202103:09 PM EST

City Council to consider incentives for 673 fintech jobs

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The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee also recommends financial assistance for Eastern Wire to expand.

By Karen Brune Mathis and Mike Mendenhall, staff writers

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee approved two requests in 6-0 votes June 21 to send economic development agreements to City Council to create 673 fintech jobs and to assist a Northwest Jacksonville manufacturer to expand.

Committee member Jordan Elsbury, chief of staff for Mayor Lenny Curry, was traveling and absent for the vote.

Project End Game

An unidentified financial technology company, referred to as Project End Game, proposes to expand into Jacksonville and create 673 full-time jobs by year-end 2024 at an average wage of $97,000.

The company seeks $4.523 million in city and state grants. It is considering coming to the Jacksonville area and to partner with an existing company that has invested in its development.

It would start by leasing space at a Downtown location and is willing to consider moving its headquarters Downtown.

A city Office of Economic Development project summary says the company designs and manages software for financial institutions.

It projects a capital investment of $6.4 million, comprising real estate improvements, IT equipment, furniture and fixtures.

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee approved a request by the economic development office to introduce a resolution to City Council to authorize the mayor to execute an economic development agreement.

The company requests a Targeted Industry Grant from the city up to $1.831 million, based on $4,500 per job for 407 positions. 

Office of Economic Development Executive Director Kirk Wendland said after the committee meeting that the grant covers 407 of the new jobs because the remaining 266 are classified as call center jobs.

The city is modeling the grant after the former state Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program, which did not provide incentives for call center jobs.

The grant would be payable in $1,125 per-job increments over four years after the average wage and job creation is verified by the city.

The state proposes a CareerSource Florida Quick Response Grant up to $4,000 per job for 673 positions, which totals $2.692 million.

Eastern Wire Products

Eastern Wire Products Inc. seeks a city grant and loan totaling $250,000 to buy a structure in Northwest Jacksonville for expansion.

The Jacksonville-based company makes steel wire and related products to support the recycling and construction industries. 

It leases part of a multitenant building and wants to buy a 78,000-square-foot structure that needs to be upgraded.

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee voted to authorize the introduction of a resolution to Council on July 27 to provide the incentives.

The resolution would authorize the mayor to execute an economic development agreement with Eastern Wire Products.

Eastern Wire proposes to invest $4.46 million into the project, comprising almost $3.06 million for the site acquisition and demolition, $522,239 for infrastructure improvements; $645,242 in building renovations; and $239,424 in machinery and equipment purchases.

The Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Advisory Committee approved a request June 15 for the assistance.

Eastern Wire requests a $100,000 Northwest Economic Development Fund Business Infrastructure Grant and a $150,000 Small Business Development Initiative loan amortized over 20 years with a balloon payment of $86,153 due at the end of the 10th year.

That loan would be subordinate to a $3.79 million first mortgage loan provided by Wells Fargo Bank and guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration 7(a) Program.

Eastern Wire proposes to finance the $4.46 million project with the first mortgage, the grant and second mortgage and with $421,190 from the company’s principals.

The company employs 42 full-time employees at an average wage of $38,000 plus benefits for a total payroll of $1.6 million. That is an average $18.26 per hour.

The summary says Eastern Wire estimates the expansion will result in another 10 jobs within three years at an average $32,500 a year (about $15.63 an hour) after the building is bought and renovated.

The summary says Robert Yates Sr. and his son, Robert Yates Jr., founded the company in 1991, state records show. Robert Yates Jr.’s two sons, Mark and Scott Yates, now own and manage the company.

Eastern Wire has been leasing part of a building at 5301 W. Fifth St. for 30 years, the summary says. The company wants to buy a building at 5415 Longleaf St. that was built in 1964. 

The property is in a Level 2 Distress Area, defined as an area where the median household income is below 60 percent and the percentage of the unemployed labor force is higher than 25 percent of the countywide average. 

Eastern Wire says the cost to upgrade the building and install infrastructure is a material factor in its site decision.

“EWP prefers to remain in Northwest Jacksonville and upgrade the building to meet health and safety codes and their manufacturing infrastructure needs,” the summary says.

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