The Colt logo (Pic via compactfirearms.com)

Colt Manufacturing Company decided to set up a plant that will generate 63 jobs over the next three years in Osceola County, thanks to economic incentives offered by county and state agencies.

A press release issued by the governor’s office states that “Colt is making a $2.5 million capital investment in a vacant building, which the company will lease, that is owned by Osceola County,” and mentions a series of incentives offered by the state, Osceola County and Valencia College, one of 28 publicly funded state colleges that serves about 70,000 students through six locations.

A fact sheet issued by the Osceola County economic development office lists the following incentives:

• $250,000 from governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund
• $100,000 for worker training from Valencia Community College
• Osceola County will spend approximately $550,000 to renovate the building
• Colt will pay $108,000 a year in rent to the county for seven years beginning in 2016, for a total of $756,000. For the first five years, the company’s rent will be $1 a year.

Director of Osceola County Economic Development Maria Grulich Toumazos tells The Florida Independent the county has agreed on construction and improvements with Colt that should start in be ready by June 2012.

According to Toumazos, Quick Action Closing Fund dollars are also slated “for construction and county improvements” to the building. “That is very exciting, because at the end of the day the county still owns the building,” Toumazos says.

She adds that other incentives include fast track permitting. “We bring in our team, composed of people from planning, engineering, fire department, whomever we need to bring in to meet with the company, and evaluate what it is going to take to get them to where they need to be,” Toumazos says.

Toumazos says Colt meets with county employees, “who will actually review their permit applications,” and can “ask any questions or obtain assistance to fill this properly.”

“When that permit is turned in they get the permit within five days,” she says.

Toumazos adds that other tax incentives, like the Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program, were not offered, but Colt could apply for a “property tax abatement on their equipment and machinery.” She says that “what they really wanted was the building retrofitted how they needed it, so they could move forward.”

Dr. Gaby Hawat, senior executive for strategic initiatives and economic development at Valencia College, tells the Independent that they worked for about a year with county officials to make sure Colt came to Florida.

According to Hawat, Valencia College will be in charge of employee training for up to five years and would look for additional funds at state or local workforce agencies if needed.

“As soon as they decide on a timeline and when the building is ready, they will be looking to hire a workforce,” Hawat says, adding that “a preference would be to hire local employees from the area, but we’ll see how that goes once they come to town.”

Hawat explains they will meet with Colt in January to discuss what skills workers need, “and we’ll look into the skilled teachers or trainers who can deliver that to their employees.”

Valencia has experience in manufacturing training for Northrop Grumman, Disney and “we are currently doing courses for [Transportation Security Administration] at Orlando Airport.”

“This is the first time we have committed X number of dollars up font for training to bring a company to town,” Hawat says. “It was one of the reasons Colt decided to come to town.”

Hawat adds that Valencia College may hire someone from within Colt to train the new employees and “we will pay them.”

“It will be like our own instructor working extra on their own time to deliver this kind of training,” he says. But ”if they don’t have someone who is capable, we will look for our own internal staffing or hire someone to do it.”

He adds that part of their “mission is to be an economic development engine for the region, providing a skilled workforce that would lure more companies to town.”

Hawat says that providing skilled workers, “let’s say 63 of them, who can get good jobs,” is an incentive. “They’re going to be paying taxes, which means more revenue for the state, which means revenue for us, which means possible continuation of college degrees, which means possibly more training later by the company they would pay for, possibly.”

“There for was a county incentive, a state incentive and there was also an educational incentive — these were the three anchors” of the Colt deal, says Hawat.

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