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Council votes to approve Mercola incentives

By Staff | Aug 20, 2019

Cape Coral City Council on Monday needed a little convincing, but eventually voted 6-1 to approve a job creation incentive to a company that has brought nearly 100 jobs, paying an average salary of $60,000 annually, to the city.

Economic Development Director Ricardo Noguera recommended the approval of the $132,000 agreement between the city and Mercola Companies, retroactive to May 29, 2018.

Joseph Mercola, a family doctor, author and health philanthropist, founded a natural health website in 1997, making it into one of the largest in the world in providing healthy lifestyle-related content and selling hundreds of products.

Mercola acquired the Mid-Cape Corporate Center for $3.7 million in 2016 and established an office there with an interest in establishing a new world headquarters for the business. At the time, Mercola had 12 employees at that site with an average wage of $73,388.

Mercola relocated 19 existing employees from Chicago, and hired 69 new local employees for their Cape Coral Operation. Mercola made further investments in the Cape Coral facility through $1.3 million in renovations and equipment to accommodate the new employees.

Noguera requested a job creation incentive of $1,500 per job relocated and created over a period of three years, retroactive to May 29, 2018, with the total not to exceed $132,000. He said the return on investment for every dollar invested is $47.

The money would assist Mercola with consolidation of the businesses’ operations, relocation of key employees and hiring of local employees in support of their continued growth.

Council members had some worries. John Gunter was concerned about paying so retroactively and about paying for those who relocated from their previous location. Gunter suggested paying retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019, a request echoed by fellow Councilmember John Carioscia.

Councilmember Jennifer Nelson, a member of the Horizon Council, warned that not including relocated workers would have negative consequences for Cape Coral. She would know, being a transplant herself.

“If we don’t include them, we will have a difficult time recruiting different types of jobs. I relocated from California and I was recruited for my expertise in moving clothing,” Nelson said. “We have to look big picture here because if you’re going to go get the technical expertise we don’t have yet, if we look years down the road, maybe the kids in high school will see this as a great place to work.”

Mayor Joe Coviello echoed those sentiments and was able to change Carioscia’s and Gunter’s mind, but not Councilmember Jessica Cosden, who offered the lone dissent.

“I think the decision shows the business community we’re willing to have incentives to create good-paying jobs for the city,” Coviello said. “When you relocate a company, you have key employees and that relocation contributes to the economy in the way of purchasing food, staying here and being part of the city.”

Ryan Boland, vice president of sales and marketing at Mercola, said he was excited by the decision to come here and help create good jobs.

“We’ve created over 100 jobs here as well as having a perfect fit for our business. We’re excited with the decision to provide the incentive,” Boland said.