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Rick Scott touts 1,000 new jobs from manufacturing expansion in Brevard

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Gov. Rick Scott announced a battery manufacturing company will expand its Brevard County operations by adding 1,000 jobs and making $270 million in capital investments.

“Oakridge Global Energy Solutions could have moved their headquarters anywhere in the world and I am proud to announce that they chose to remain in Florida and create 1,000 new jobs,” Scott said in the announcement.

The company, which currently employs 36 Floridians, moved its headquarters from a 12,000-square-foot facility to a 68,718-square-foot facility in Palm Bay last month and said it will build a 230,000-square-foot facility to increase its manufacturing capacity in Florida.

“We have completed the restructure, have taken the brakes off, and are moving ahead full speed,” Oakridge CEO Steve Barber said at the time. “We are very pleased with the new corporate facility. The city of Palm Bay, Florida, has made us feel very welcome and we look forward to a very good long-term relationship.”

The expansion was helped along by economic development money, though exact details of what Oakridge will receive for the expansion were not released. Palm Bay officials approved one part of the package in August when they agreed to $12 million in city property tax breaks over the next eight years. Likewise, Brevard County officials agreed to nearly $9 million in property tax breaks for the company.

According to the deal, the new jobs will have an average annual salary of $50,000, which would make the company eligible for a $3,000 tax break for each added job through the state’s Qualified Target Industry program.

This expansion is another in a long list of jobs announcements for Brevard County, which in the last two months has partnered with the state to hammer out high-tech jobs deals with Embraer, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Blue Origin, the space flight startup headed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. All together, those deals promise more than 2,000 new jobs in the county.

Those deals aren’t cheap, and Gov. Scott once again called on the Legislature to “fully fund” Enterprise Florida in the 2016-17 budget. Scott hasn’t released his budget recommendation for next year yet, though the Department of Economic Opportunity asked for $85 million for incentives programs in its recent legislative budget request.

The figure matches what Scott asked for in the current budget, but lawmakers ended up allocating about $43 million due to unspent incentives money in past budgets. Scott’s budget recommendation, which should mirror DEO’s $85 million request, is due 30 days before session begins.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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