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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 18, 201805:20 AM EST

Project Buckeye would bring 21 new jobs to Northwest Jacksonville

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New Jersey-based toy company seeking $689,000 in city and state incentives.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

Jacksonville City Council members will decide whether to approve an economic development agreement to bring 21 new jobs to Northwest Jacksonville.

A New Jersey-based company, known as Project Buckeye, is seeking $689,000 in city and state-backed financial incentives to set up a manufacturing and distribution facility.

According to legislation filed Wednesday, Buckeye is a manufacturer and distributor of children’s toys, art and stationery products with 150 employees nationwide.

It plans to hire 21 full-time management and administration employees in Jacksonville at 115 percent of Florida’s average wage, or $53,298 annually.

A fact sheet attached to the legislation states Buckeye plans to lease 293,000 square feet of space in a $12 million warehouse facility to be built in Northwest Jacksonville.

Buckeye seeks a Recapture Enhanced Value grant from the city worth 50 percent of the ad valorem taxes generated from the project. The city estimates the REV grant to be worth $626,000 over 10 years.

Additionally, the company is asking for a $63,000 Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund to hire 21 employees by year-end 2020. The grant pays $3,000 per new job created. The city is responsible for 20 percent of the grant, or $12,600, with the state picking up the rest.

The positions would include production supervisors, management staff and warehouse personnel.

Both incentives are paid only after Buckeye reaches certain capital investment and hiring benchmarks outlined in the agreement.

The city states in the legislative fact sheet that incentives are a material factor in Buckeye’s decision to consider Jacksonville.

In exchange for incentives, Buckeye plans to spend at least $965,000 into the leased warehouse space with investments in the building and to purchase manufacturing and other equipment.

An additional 50 jobs could be created annually based upon the seasonal needs of the business.

Fast-track legislation approving the economic development agreement will be introduced next week. The fast-track designation allows council members to vote on the bill after two public hearings.

It will be introduced to the council Finance Committee before a full council vote in November.  

The company’s description in legislation and other documents matches that of Randolph, New Jersey-based Cra-Z-Art.

According to the Cra-Z-Art website, the company offers “original, creative, exciting and trendy activity, toy, art and stationery products.”

Buzzfile reports that LaRose Industries LLC, which operates as Cra-Z-Art, has a manufacturing branch in Fayette, Ohio, where it employs about 21 people.

Ohio’s nickname is “The Buckeye State.”

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