BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners agreed unanimously this week to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to retain existing jobs at Sparton Electronics and lure more to the Brooksville facility.
Sparton Corp. has seen some tough economic times, and chief executive officer Cary Wood, who became head of the company late last year, has been working to reinvent the company, county business development director Michael McHugh told commissioners Tuesday.
That has meant the difficult decision to close manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Canada. But when the firm announced those plans, officials in Michigan contacted the company to offer an incentive package to keep them from leaving and possibly lure the Florida work housed both in Brooksville and De Leon Springs to Michigan.
Hernando County's response was an incentive package of their own.
"We crafted up an agreement,'' McHugh said. "We want them to stay here and we want them to grow.''
Under the plan approved by commissioners on Tuesday, Sparton would receive a $500 retention incentive for each of the existing 179 jobs retained at the Brooksville facility, which manufactures electronic circuit boards used in aerospace, medical, homeland defense and military applications.
That would total $89,500 to be paid in two annual installments.
Also, if Sparton creates the 100 new jobs it projects, the firm would receive up to $300,000 paid in five years of installments.
Through the Florida Defense and Space Contractor incentive program, the firm could also receive $3,000 for each job retained or created. The state pays 80 percent of that cost, and the county's share would not top $167,400 paid over four years.
The incentives are performance-based; the firm will not receive them unless they follow through with their promises to retain jobs and create new ones, McHugh said.
"I sense a real enthusiasm from the company,'' he said, inviting Wood to address the commission.
Wood told commissioners that Sparton Corp. "has gone through difficult times over the last three years.''
When he came on board, he pushed a 100-day plan "to return it (Sparton) to profitability.'' The firm's decision to move work from other locations to Brooksville means it is now the only facility that makes these particular electronic products.
"We appreciate having you in our community,'' said County Commission Chairman Dave Russell. "We're certainly pleased to step up with what we have to offer. Don't forget the sunshine and fresh air.''
After the vote, Wood told commissioners that "we appreciate being embraced. It certainly makes the decisions a whole lot easier.''
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.