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  1. Hernando

Pasco fencing company moving to and expanding in Brooksville

Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville.   JUSTIN TROMBLY | Times
Hernando County Courthouse in Brooksville. JUSTIN TROMBLY | Times
Published Apr. 29, 2019

BROOKSVILLE — A Pasco County fencing business got a boost from the Hernando County Commission last month to move and expand its operation to a site near County Fairgrounds.

The relocation proposal for Delamere Industries drew discussion among commissioners. They have been reshaping economic development efforts, unable to provide much incentive funding because of their dire financial condition.

Previous coverage: County's financial position requires discussion on many cost-saving measures

Hernando County has paid incentives for business openings, relocations and expansions after companies have met their job creation goals. Instead, commissioners gave Delamere the county-owned land beneath the building they are buying.

Delamere, which does business as Elite Fence and DOT Aluminum Rail, fabricates and installs commercial, residential and Florida Department of Transportation fencing and rail products, primarily in Florida. The growing company is based in Land O' Lakes.

Delamere president Paul Hughes said he had looked for some time for a place to expand. With 70 percent of his workers coming from Hernando County, the move north seemed right.

He found a location he liked at 19370 Oliver Street, the former location of Monster Transmission. The 22,193-square-foot building is privately owned, but the land beneath it belongs to Hernando County. Monster Transmission operated on the 3.26-acre property and leased the land from the county.

County officials appraised the land and determined it to be worth $36,000. Under the agreement struck with Delamere, the county will give the land to the company, and the company agreed to create 18 new jobs in the next four years with an average wage of $34,435. Hughes also expects to make about $1 million in capital improvements.

The business currently employs 21 workers.

Delamere also must provide an instrument of financial security for $36,000.

Commissioner Steve Champion said he didn't agree with the property's appraisal. Its agricultural zoning was never changed, and it would be worth more if zoned as a commercial site, he said.

"There's no way its only worth $36,000,'' he said. "I don't think we should be giving anything away.''

Valerie Pianta, the county's economic development coordinator, said the company made an offer to buy the building, and the land has some unique features that keep it from being ideal. If the commission were paying per-job incentives, as it had in the past, it would spend between $2,000 and $3,000 per new job.

"You know what the real incentive is,'' Champion said, "Getting out of Pasco. It's a real disaster.''

Commissioner Wayne Dukes said he didn't mind providing an incentive that didn't cost any money outright and would bring in tax revenue.

Champion asked whether the company would move if the county didn't offer the incentive.

"We are stretching,'' Hughes said. "The proposal right now is important to me.''

Commissioners approved the deal 4-1, with Champion voting no.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at bbehrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

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