BROOKSVILLE — While the downturn in the economy took a toll on numerous businesses in Hernando County, one manufacturer at the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport has reason to toast its continued growth.
Micro Matic USA, which makes a variety of beer-dispensing equipment, has announced plans to build a 40,000-square-foot facility on airport property that will front the Suncoast Parkway.
That $3 million investment also comes with plans to add 15 workers over the next three years and keep the existing workforce of 135 in place. The company will continue to operate the 75,000-square-foot facility it currently occupies nearby.
Micro Matic's operations have been growing since the company arrived in Hernando County in 2002 under the name Tissco. The Danish parent company, Micro Matic, has been in operation internationally since 1953.
Recently, company officials began looking at other communities to plan an expansion because they had run out of space in Hernando. They have even had to lease space at the old Omni Circuits facility at the airport to keep up with orders.
Ultimately, they decided to stay in Hernando, said Valerie Pianta, the county's supervisor of economic development.
"It's really exciting,'' Pianta said. "It's really wonderful that this business is going to build here and going to stay here.''
On Tuesday, the County Commission will consider awarding Micro Matic job creation and retention incentives. The creation incentives include $3,000 for each job added, or a total of $45,000 over the next five years. The retention incentives total $135,000, paid over two years.
All incentives are paid annually after documentation by the company of the jobs retained or created and the wages, which average $34,911 a year.
Pianta noted that Micro Matic has not previously sought job creation incentives, even though the employee numbers have continued to rise. As the company was preparing to move into its existing building in 2010, it had just 80 employees.
This time, the company did seek the incentives, as county economic development officials explained that there was a financial benefit to staying put in Hernando. Company management has committed to investing in its employees but putting the incentive money back into training programs, Pianta said.
The best part of the news about the company staying in Hernando, according to Pianta, is that it expects to continue to expand. The site for the new facility is 25 acres. The new building will occupy only 5 acres.
"They can start out on 5 and grow from there,'' she said. "We're so happy they decided to stay here.''
Several years ago, Micro Matic chief executive officer Torben Toftegaard said he was encouraged by the growth of brewing, particularly with increased interest in the craft in this country.
National statistics show that trend continuing.
The Brewers Association counted 1,625 American breweries in 2010, and 2,822 breweries that operated for some or all of 2013 in the United States.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.