Hernando officials court large-scale manufacturer, offering economic incentives

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County is courting another large-scale manufacturer. And if it lands this one, it would be the largest manufacturing facility at the Hernando County Airport and Business Complex.

County commissioners will be asked on Tuesday to support a resolution that would make the company, dubbed Project Kodiak to protect its identity, eligible for the state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program.

The county's share of that incentive would be $175,200, paid over fiscal years 2014 through 2018. The state pays the remaining 80 percent of the cost, which refunds corporate income, sales, property, intangible personal property, insurance premium and other taxes.

The company, which is looking to expand, is considering building a 225,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility on a 40-acre site it would lease from the county-owned airport. Several parcels on the airport property are under consideration.

The company is considering spending more than $15 million on construction, manufacturing equipment and furnishings.

The plan is to create 292 jobs over a period of five years — jobs that would pay at or above the county's average annual wage, which currently is $28,894. The company also provides a full benefits package to its employees.

The tax refund incentive the commissioners will consider on Tuesday is based on the creation of those jobs. The company will be required to provide documentation annually on job creation, job retention and wages.

The identity of the company is protected under a confidentiality agreement that covers the early stages of negotiations, one of the rare exceptions to the state's Sunshine Law. If the county is successful in luring the company, the identity would be revealed when the county begins to sign agreements with it, according to Michael McHugh, business development manager for the county.

McHugh said the county has been talking with the company for four to six months and already has been laying the groundwork for making a comfortable fit for the company at the industrial park.

"We believe we have a tremendous opportunity here with bringing significant job creation to this county,'' McHugh said. "I'm excited for the community. We need some good news.''

Hernando County's unemployment rate in July was 11.3 percent, and the county has long relied on the now-depressed home-building industry. County officials have said one of their goals is to diversify the local economy.

In recent months, the County Commission has discussed and approved rezoning and incentives for another manufacturing company that is considering building at the airport industrial park.

That unnamed company, represented by the development firm MPH Holdings LLC in Indianapolis, has proposed a 75,000-square-foot facility and spending an estimated $5 million to construct a building and buy machinery and furnishings.

That facility would be slated for a 15.3-acre parcel that borders the eastern side of the Suncoast Parkway, south of Downwind Way.

McHugh said he is encouraged by the interest in the county's industrial park and by the buzz from existing businesses as well. Several have been working on or preparing for expansions, he said.

"It's a very positive sign,'' he said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando officials court large-scale manufacturer, offering economic incentives 08/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 24, 2012 9:32pm]

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