Algae farm, tech firm could receive job grants worth $400,000

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Two companies looking to expand or move into the county could find out Tuesday if they will receive nearly $400,000 in grant funding for offering high-paying jobs.

Those companies include AlgaGen LLC, currently based in the county, south of Vero Beach, and an unnamed technology firm with plans to move its headquarters to an industrial park in the north county. The Board of County Commissioners is expected to take up a vote on both firms’ jobs grant applications Tuesday.

AlgaGen, which has plans to expand its operation by opening a second site in Sebastian, qualifies for $36,000 in jobs grant funding for bringing in six jobs that will pay at least the county’s median salary.

By comparison, the tech company is expecting to create 47 jobs immediately, qualifying it to receive $363,000 in county grant dollars.

The tech firm, however, has not finalized its decision on moving to Indian River County from Melbourne. It is also considering a location in Palm Bay, in Brevard County.

Though company officials have said that they would prefer the Indian River County site, the decision will ultimately be left to the private investors.

The $363,000 jobs grant, to be paid over a period of three years upon proof of employee wages, could be enough of a pot sweetener to bring the company to Indian River County.

“We’re pretty happy with the Sebastian location,” consultant Tim Keithahn said, noting that the site is close to two airports, there are suitable accommodations for visiting customers and potential clients, and the overall appearance of the area is satisfactory.

“It’s very suitable to what we’re looking for,” he added.

AlgaGen, which grows plankton for various uses including fish food at its plant on Oslo Road, is considering moving to the Historic Archie Smith Fish House in Sebastian and hiring 10 people. Of those employees, six would earn at least the county’s median salary of $35,880.

Currently the company has three employees and two unpaid volunteers. The jobs grant application shows that the positions to be hired include a chief executive officer, a chief financial officer, an engineer, technicians, a sales manager, an office manager and shipping/receiving clerk.

AlgaGen is expected to ask the county for a 99-year lease for the Archie Smith Fish House site.

That request is expected to go through various committee channels and staff levels before going to the Board of County Commissioners.

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