Telecommunications firm with local headquarters seeking county jobs grant

INDIAN  RIVER COUNTY – A national telecommunications company with its headquarters in Vero Beach is seeking a jobs grant from Indian River County as it plans to expand its operations locally.

The firm, which requested and received anonymity from the county’s Economic Development Council, has not been named publicly. The company currently has 180 employees nationwide, with 45 in Indian River County, according to the council.

It plans to add another dozen “very good paying jobs,” said the company’s representative, Martha, said.

The total grant the company is seeking from the county is $68,000, to be paid out over three years as the company proves it has hired the number of employees it has said it would at the salaries promised.

Six of the new hires can expect to be paid more than $52,000 annually, while four can expect salaries of nearly $35,000, and two would receive more than $26,000.

She told the group Tuesday afternoon that the company has been in the area since 1975 and provides telecommunication services for public safety, public transit and public utilities.

The firm is looking to expand its workforce due to a recent acquisition, which has led to new opportunities and long-term clients, she said.

Helene Caseltine, director of economic development of the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, told the council that, though the company is well-established and not looking to relocate, the condition of anonymity was granted as is the company’s right to have.

Sebastian Councilwoman Andrea Coy had questioned the use of confidentiality.

Caseltine said the confidentiality would help in not alarming the company’s current employees and would also protect the company from alerting its competitors.

Coy ultimately cast the lone vote against approving the jobs grant, solely due to the confidentiality issue.

She said she was concerned due to the “embarrassing moment a couple months ago” when the county approved a jobs grant and up-front loan to a powder company. The research done on the company raised several concerns from the county’s staff and led the company to rescind its request for the funding.

“It did have a few glitches,” Commissioner and board liaison Peter O’Bryan said of the powder company’s request, adding that he thought everyone was a “little guilty of being overly exuberant” in approving the grant and loan to keep the company in Indian River County.

“We learned a lot of good lessons,” O’Bryan said, adding that staff has done more research on the front-end of the telecommunications company’s jobs grant.

Both Caseltine and O’Bryan have visited the firm’s job site for themselves and confirmed the company is for real.

Bill Schutt, the county’s senior economic development planner, told the council that the staff has done a basic Google search as well as a court records search to be sure the county wouldn’t be handing money over to a firm with financial troubles.

Coy said she could trust the staff to do its research but would have preferred to know the name of the company so as to verify the information on her own.

O’Bryan said that this current jobs grant is a straight-forward 3-year grant just like the ones the council had approved prior to the powder coating company.

“I feel comfortable with this one,” he said.

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