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BOCC to help Cape with Hertz proposal

By Staff | Sep 4, 2013

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate funds from its high-skill, high-wage incentive program to match funds being provided by the city of Cape Coral to locate a call center in the city.

A large contingent of Cape’s political glitterati attended the meeting Tuesday to encourage commissioners to support the additional $187,500 in incentives for Hertz.

Mayor John Sullivan, along with most of the members of City Council and Economic Develop-ment Director Dana Brunett, were there to sell them on the idea.

And the BOCC was prepared, moving the item to the top of the agenda.

Brunett and Sullivan made brief comments during public input, but other than that, there wasn’t more selling, since the BOCC already seemed sold.

There was little deliberation before it passed the motion 5-0.

“It was very positive, they were fully for bringing the Hertz corporation into the Cape, and said they would do what it takes to help us,” Councilmember Lenny Nesta said. “Dana did a great job bringing this to fruition and we are totally happy we pulled this out.”

Cape Coral City Council voted Aug. 26 to offer $187,500 in incentives to Hertz and to ask Lee County to match the amount.

This incentive award is intended to secure a commitment from Hertz to develop a new video-based call center in Cape Coral. The center is projected to employ at least 250 sales specialists, team leaders and managers.

These jobs would pay an average wage of $27,440 annually and include a benefits package valued at roughly $8,500 per year. Total direct earnings upon full employment will be $8,985,000 annually.

These jobs would be separate from the 700 to be located at the corporate headquarters site in Estero.

Commissioner John Manning, who made the motion for the commissioners to push the item through, called the deal a win-win for the city and Lee County.

“It diversifies the city’s economic base even further. This is 250 jobs initially, with Hertz hoping to staff about 500,” Manning said. “When you look at the types the jobs and the Class A office space they’ll fill, it’s a win-win.”

If Lee County is selected as the site for this project (another undisclosed location is also in the running and said to be pursuing this aggressively), the company plans to enter into a long-term lease for commercial office space within the city.

The primary facility under consideration includes more work space than is necessary for the initial phase of the project and could serve as an expansion site for additional operations as needed.

Lee County allocates $1.5 million annually for its Lee County Job Opportunities Program, which incentivizes the creation of high-skill/high-wage jobs, program guidelines provide that new employment paying an average wage that exceeds the Lee County average may qualify for an award ranging from $2,000 to $6,000 per job.

The current average wage in Lee County is $35,859 per year. While this project would create jobs paying total compensation of $35,940 including benefits, the straight wage is about 76 percent of the Lee County average.

As a result of this, the BOCC will provide fewer incentives than offered – $750 per job from Lee County, the same Cape Coral is paying – to equally fund the $1,500-per-job incentive the company requires as an inducement to locate in Lee County.

Commissioner Tammy Hall said the structure of this deal allows Lee County to find more businesses to come to the area.

“We asked Cape Coral to joint venture this incentive and they agreed. This means more dollars in our pot to seek business for more of the county as a whole and it uses existing space in the Cape,” Hall said.