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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 9, 201806:50 AM EST

Project Volt could bring the largest capital investment ever for Jacksonville, official says

Project Volt is seeking nearly $54 million in local and state incentives to establish a U.S. headquarters, manufacturing plant and assembly operation in Jacksonville.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

City leaders are calling a pending deal with the unidentified Project Volt the largest ever for Jacksonville.

Kirk Wendland, executive director of the city’s Office of Economic Development, told the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee on Monday that landing the company and its proposed $410 million capital investment and 800 jobs has been “a very competitive process.”

“From what we can tell, that would be the largest single project capital investment that we’ve ever been involved with,” said Wendland, who needed the committee’s approval before introducing the deal to City Council.

Wendland also said Volt is having internal discussions about increasing the number of employees to 1,000 that it would hire for the two facilities it plans to build-out in North and West Jacksonville.

He said the company has not committed to the increase, but would like authorization to do so as the legislation makes its way through council.

Volt is seeking nearly $54 million in local and state incentives to establish a U.S. headquarters, manufacturing plant and assembly operation in Jacksonville to create what Wendland called “a state-of-the-art operation.”

That increased job count would change the financial incentives the city is planning to offer the company.

According to a project summary of the current agreement for 800 jobs, the city would be responsible for 20 percent of a $4 million Quality Targeted Industry Tax Refund grant, worth $800,000.

The state is responsible for the remaining 80 percent, or $3.2 million.

If Volt adds 200 more employees, the city’s QTI grant would increase to $1 million and the state’s to $4 million.

The city also is proposing to provide Volt relief from up to 75 percent of the property taxes generated from the project in the form of a Recaptured Enhanced Value grant over 10 years, with a cap of $23.8 million.

Wendland said legislation being introduced to council this week would only authorize the city’s $24.6 million commitment and not the potential $24.8 million.

“The state portion is still being discussed and is subject to change, obviously at their discretion,” said Wendland, who was referring to Enterprise Florida Inc., which is working on the state’s part of the deal.

According to the project summary, the state would invest at least $29.3 million in the form of incentives, tax credits and grants.

The legislation, Ordinance 2018-001, is being introduced as a “fast track” bill Tuesday night, which is given a two-cycle reading through council and its committees.

Economic development agreements often use code names for projects, which is allowed under state law.

Wendland declined Monday to identify the company, although signs point to it being Shanghai-based JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd.

Volt will lease 1.2 million square feet of space among a 407,435-square-foot speculative building in AllianceFlorida at Cecil Commerce Center and an 815,000-square-foot former Sears warehouse in North Jacksonville.

Volt pledges to invest $410 million into the project locations.

It would invest $270 million to turn the Cecil center at 4660 New World Ave. into its main manufacturing operation. That would be split with $120 million in real estate improvements and $150 million in machinery and equipment

It would put $140 million into the North Jacksonville center at 2969 Faye Road for its solar panel assembly and distribution center.

That would be $33 million in real estate improvements and $107 million in machinery and equipment.

It would start operations by year-end 2019 and pay an average wage of $46,346.

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