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Mathis Report
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jun. 27, 201805:10 AM EST

The Mathis Report: Cra-Z-Art looks like Project Buckeye

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New Jersey-based company could be drawn to Jacksonville by city incentives.

Project Buckeye, which seeks incentives to consolidate manufacturing, warehouse and distribution functions in Jacksonville, matches the description of Cra-Z-Art, a New Jersey-based toy and art products company.

Take a look:

The city describes Project Buckeye as “a manufacturer and distributor of children’s toys, art and stationary products.” (That should be stationery.)

The city’s project summary says Buckeye is based in New Jersey where it operates warehouse and distribution facilities and its manufacturing is in the Midwest.

It says if Buckeye chooses Jacksonville, it would create at least 21 full-time jobs within the first three years.

Now look at Cra-Z-Art.

Cra-Z-Art’s website says its offers “original, creative, exciting and trendy activity, toy, art and stationery products.”

It is based in Randolph, New Jersey.

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.”

All of that could be coincidental. There could be other toy, art and stationery – paper goods – companies with headquarters in New Jersey and manufacturing in the Midwest.

Cra-Z-Art is not talking about it.

“We don’t comment on matters relating to our manufacturing operations,” said representative Charlie Zakin by email Tuesday.

City spokeswoman Tia Ford said Tuesday she had no information to provide about the project.

On Monday, the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee voted to allow the Office of Economic Development to introduce a resolution July 24 to City Council to authorize the mayor to execute an economic development agreement with Buckeye.

The project summary says Buckeye is evaluating the consolidation and looking at several cities. 

In Jacksonville it would lease 293,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space in Northwest Jacksonville in a center that would be built for $12 million.

The 21 production supervisors, management staff and warehouse personnel would be paid an average $53,298.

Buckeye seeks $638,600 in city incentives for a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant and a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund. The state would pay $50,400 in QTI funds.

The committee also voted to authorize legislation and an economic development agreement for Project Grid, an unidentified Jacksonville company that handles the processing and sale of products.

It proposes to create 79 jobs at an average wage of $69,520 by Dec. 31, 2022.

Grid would lease about 15,000 square feet of additional office space for the expansion. It seeks a city-state QTI refund of up to $474,000, or $6,000 per job.

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