Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando agrees to support incentives for biomedical company

BROOKSVILLE — A biomedical research, development and manufacturing company is eyeing a building and land near the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport and Technology Center for possible expansion.

This week, the Hernando County Commission decided to sweeten the deal by agreeing to the local match needed for the unnamed company to obtain special incentives from the state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund and High Impact Bonus program.

The county's 20 percent share for the incentives would cost $80,000, paid over a period of four years. The performance-based incentives require the company to annually document job creation, job retention and wages.

That means the company, which currently has no operations in Hernando, does not get any funding up front; it is paid once the documentation is provided, said Michael McHugh, the county's departing business development manager.

No other details about the company are available because it has requested confidentiality during the early stages of the process, McHugh said. County officials refer to it as "Project Asterisk."

"They're interested in an existing building," McHugh said. "They want to know that they can get the state incentives."

The company will also seek county incentives, he said, and its identity will be revealed later in the process.

"The company wants to do something pretty quickly," McHugh said, predicting that within the next two months there will be some activity on the project.

The company intends to spend about $20 million to renovate the building and to create at least 80 new jobs in the first two years. Those jobs will carry an average annual wage of $35,635, which is greater than 115 percent of the county's average wage. That qualifies the company for incentives.

Also, the company's benefits package is valued at more than $11,000.

Commission Chairman Dave Russell noted during Tuesday's meeting that, when he was a member of the Florida Legislature, he had a part in creating the state incentives to lure business to Florida.

"This is a great program," Russell said. "It's good to see the state is continuing to fund it."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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