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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Aug. 7, 201312:00 PM EST

Vistakon, Exquisite Import/Export Trading Co. seek City and state incentives to create 225 jobs

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by: David Chapman

Two companies, Vistakon, part of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc., and Exquisite Import/Export Trading Co. Inc., will seek City and state incentives to create 225 combined jobs through expansion and headquarters relocation.

The combined City investment is $6.945 million for both deals.

Johnson & Johnson would create up to 150 new, full-time jobs at an average wage of $65,000 plus benefits and generate an annual payroll of $16.9 million.

It also proposes to invest $218 million, comprising $20 million toward building improvements and the remaining $188 million in machinery and equipment.

Johnson & Johnson is considering expanding its Jacksonville manufacturing operation at 7500 Centurion Parkway. The expansion would be for its Vistakon division, which makes disposable contact lenses, according to a news release from the JAX Chamber. Legislation is expected to be introduced today.

According to a legislative fact sheet released today, Johnson & Johnson is seeking an estimated $6.9 million Recapture Enhanced Value grant from the City, representing 50 percent of the incremental increase in property taxes for 10 years after the expansion is complete.

The state is proposing to provide a $1.5 million Quick Action Closing Fund contribution, a $225,00 Quick Response Training grant and a Capital Investment Tax Credit equal to 5 percent of "the total capital investment over 20 years estimated to be $77 million," according to the fact sheet.

As reported in the Daily Record, the company filed plans July 1 with the St. Johns Water Management District proposing a "Phase 6" 23,000-square-foot building addition and parking lot on its Southside campus in Deerwood Park. It's not clear whether the building is associated with the incentives request.

The fact sheet said Johnson & Johnson is considering Jacksonville and Limerick, Ireland, where it also has a plant, for the expansion.

Exquisite Import/Export Trading, which does business as ETC Logistics USA., has proposed to relocate its headquarters, warehouse, and distribution center and logistics business from Fort Mill, S.C., to 9225 Dames Point Road at the Dames Point Marine Terminal.

The company would develop a palm oil processing facility to distribute its Royal Golden Palm Cooking Oils product line, according to a legislative fact sheet.

The company proposes to add 75 new, full-time jobs with an average wage of $47,581 plus benefits. The jobs would be for warehouse, distribution and logistics personnel, dock workers, forklift and crane operators and manufacturing employees.

The chamber news release said the company also was considering Baltimore and West Palm Beach for the relocation.

The annual payroll is estimated at $3.8 million including benefits. The company plans to invest up to $39.1 million over five years, comprising an $11 million acquisition, $10 million in renovations, $3 million in machinery and equipment and $15 million in docking improvements.

ETC requests $425,000 in incentives.

The request comprises a $225,000 Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund, of which the City would pay $45,000 and the state would pay $180,000, along with a state Economic Development Transportation Grant of up to $200,000 for the construction of a rail spur to tie into the CSX Corp. network.

Exquisite Import/Export Trading Co. Inc. is the parent company for Talford-Guyana Agro Industries Inc., according to its tgaii.vpweb.com website.

According to the site, the company provides "Sustainable Agricultural and Renewable Energy Resources in the United State and Guyana, South America." Exquisite was founded in 1988 and operates as a trade stream organization providing services in agricultural development, transportation, freight forward, warehousing and agro-logistics management, according to the website.

Talford-Guyana, the subsidiary, was founded in 2010 and said it is developing "a medium to large scale Palm Oil Plantation with Mill and Refinery," and currently is cultivating 5,000 acres with an additional acreage for a fast-yield alternative crop and a total cultivation capacity of 65,000 acres.

Byproducts produced from the crops consist of crude oils processed into edible products such as vegetable oil, biodiesel fuels and organic animal feed, it says.

The subsidiary has locations in Charlotte, N.C., and Georgetown, Guyana.

[email protected]

(904) 356-2466

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