County Moves Forward with Advanced Manufacturing Incentive

St. Johns County officials are hoping to land more than 300 advanced manufacturing jobs with a little luck and a generous economic development grant agreement.

Commissioners reviewed details of the proposed agreement at a meeting earlier this month and gave staff the green light to draft the agreement – which includes incentives valued at more than $4.6 million. County Economist David Kiernan said the company, code-named Project Krew because the company requested confidentiality during its site search, would occupy an existing 150,000-square foot building and begin operations by the fourth quarter of 2025.

The prospective company also falls in two targeted industry sectors – advanced manufacturing and health and life sciences – and would create $70 million in tangible personal property value “most of that being robotics equipment,” Kiernan said. “That’s 4.5% of existing tangible personal property, so it’s relatively substantial.”

Because the facility to house the operation already exists, Kiernan said no land-use changes are necessary and includes a total investment for land, building and equipment of $112 million along with a total of 324 jobs.

“We estimated those jobs would bring $8b million to start, growing to $22 million,” Kiernan said, along with indirect benefits associated with business to business spending and spending of personal incomes.

Kiernan said the incentive will be in effect for a period of nine years.

“They pay their ad valorum and tangible personal property taxes and if they meet their employment milestones, we essentially refund that money to them,” he said.

Commission Chair Christian Whitehurst said he has high hopes for the project.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Especially in these two targeted industries. I’m very optimistic about this potential project.”

Commissioner Krista Joseph said she wanted to ensure that the jobs created would to St. Johns County residents.

“I asked questions about employing the people that are here and not bringing them in and they were very positive about that,” she said.

Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to draft an incentive agreement with the company. The final agreement will come before the board at a later date for final approval.