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The City of Titusville, Florida / Community Development / Economic Development / News

Falcon Marine plans to add 65 jobs and invest $2.9M

Commissioners OK incentives for Titusville boat maker

Dave Berman, Florida Today
Nov. 3, 2015
http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/2015/10/16/catamaran-maker-seeks-incentives-expand-titusville/73944182/

Catamaran maker Falcon Marine LLC received its property tax break from Brevard County on Tuesday.

But it wasn't totally smooth sailing for the Titusville-based company. During the County Commission meeting, Commissioner Trudie Infantini escalated her criticism of other county commissioners' practice of giving out tax breaks to companies that are expanding their Brevard County operations and creating jobs.

"I would encourage this board to stop handing these out so generously," Infantini said before commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the incentives for Falcon, with Infantini voting no.

Infantini said "the core needs of the county" must be met before more tax breaks are approved.

The other four commissioners all spoke in favor of the tax incentive program, which has been approved by county voters in three referendums.

Companies must meet or exceed their job creation and capital investment goals to get the tax breaks, and a number have been rescinded over the years when companies didn't reach their goals.

"There's a net gain to the county, and it's a good program," County Commission Chairman Robin Fisher said.

"The argument can go on and on," Commission Vice Chair Jim Barfield said. "But, reality is, if you have people that work, you're helping the county."

The County Commission approved property tax breaks for Falcon of $12,466 a year for eight years, or a total of $99,728.

The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast estimates that Falcon would pay $21,893 a year in new taxes during that time period, or a total of $175,144 over eight years.

Falcon was seeking property tax breaks from the county as part of its plan to add 65 full-time jobs with an average annual wage of $44,500 over the next three years at its facilities at 5225 S. Washington Ave. (U.S. 1) in Titusville. Falcon also plans to make a $2.9 million investment on new construction, building modifications and new equipment there.

Falcon, which now has seven employees, moved to its current Titusville location from Port Canaveral in December.

The Economic Development Commission estimates that Falcon's proposed expansion would lead to 46 spin-off jobs.

Falcon makes two-person racing catamarans that have won more than 100 regattas, including three world championship events, one U.S. national championship and five European championships.

The company plans to branch out into another product line — 44-foot luxury catamarans.

County Commissioner Curt Smith said, with the new jobs and new property tax revenue generated by Falcon, "we're not taking away. We're adding to."

Commissioner Andy Anderson implied that Infantini was playing to her political base by opposing the tax breaks.

But Infantini, an announced for Brevard County clerk of courts in 2016, said: "If you want to call it political campaigning, you can call it what you like."

Infantini maintained that her views on tax breaks are a long-standing position, adding that it was nice of Anderson to make his comments soon after he took a job as Palm Bay's economic development administrator.

Infantini said she wants to have a "performance audit" done on the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast, which received $1.4 million this budget year from the county.

She said, if the tax incentive program is "so darn good, why are we not giving it to every single business that starts up here, if it's a net gain? It defies logic."

But Smith said the rules for tax incentives must be followed, and "to just do it helter-skelter would be chaos."

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 and dberman@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByDaveBerman and on Facebook at facebook.com/dave.berman.54
 



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