Tech firm looking to move into north county wants jobs grant

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – A new, unnamed technology company with plans to possibly set up its headquarters in the north part of the county is seeking a jobs grant from the county worth $363,000.

“The timeline’s rather tight,” said company representative Tim Keithahn.

The firm expects to close on the purchase of a software product line on Aug. 27 and immediately begin hiring about 47 employees.

The Board of County Commissioners is expected to vote on the company’s requested jobs grant at its next meeting, Aug. 17, after the county’ Economic Development Council held a special meeting Monday.

The company is considering setting up its headquarters in the industrial park off County Road 512 on 102nd Terrace, between Sebastian and Fellsmere. The firm is also looking at a piece of property in Palm Bay, at US 1 and Palm Bay Road.

“It kind of sounded like it’s ours to lose,” Commission Chairman Peter O’Bryan said after the council meeting.

The tech firm’s representatives said they have not yet made a presentation to Brevard County officials.

“Sebastian probably has a leg up,” Keithahn said when members of the EDC asked which location the company was leaning toward.

He explained that the north county industrial park has the campus atmosphere the firm is looking for, but it would mean an extra 25-minute commute for many of the employees.

“We would be happy to sell them a house in Sebastian,” Sebastian City Councilwoman and EDC member Andrea Coy said.

The various investors in the company will be the ones to make the final decision as to whether the company moves to Indian River or Brevard.

And part of their decision could be based on the awarding of the requested jobs grant.

To start, the company plans to hire about 47 employees, and by 2013, have added another eight.

Under the county’s jobs grant application and regulations, the tech firm qualifies for $363,000, to be paid out over three years. The vast majority of the hires are expected to make more than $53,818 annually, qualifying for the maximum grant amount of $7,000 per employee.

Seven employees can expect to be paid the county’s average annual wage of $35,880, while another two can expect to be paid three-quarters of that – $26,909.

If the jobs grant is approved, and the investors agree that Indian River County is the place to locate, the firm hopes to move into its new home by Nov. 30.

“We’re pretty happy with the Sebastian location,” 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 said.

Keithahn would not answer questions regarding how much of a financial impact the tech firm expects to have on the county, citing confidentiality clauses. However, he noted that some of the new hires could relocate to Indian River County and, with clients coming to visit, they would use area hotels and restaurants.

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