Charlotte County commissioners OK tax credits to boat manufacturer

December 18th, 2017

By Jonathan Scholles, Staff Writer - Sun-Herald


MURDOCK — With little deliberation Tuesday, Charlotte County commissioners moved quickly to OK tax credits to bring a boat manufacturing business to town.

The board unanimously approved a 100 percent ad valorem tax exemption for the newly-created Megal Corporation, and affiliates, New York based Metalcraft Marine and Conner Industries, which is primed to build a 10,000-square-foot manufacturing and marine testing facility on a 5-acre parcel at Punta Gorda Airport and Commerce Park.

The total annual exemption approved is $8,650 for 10 years for a maximum estimated tax credit of $86,508, according to an ordinance. Charlotte County has $136.7 million in revenue available from ad valorem taxes for the fiscal year — $271,729 of which is dedicated to economic development projects.

Megal, owned by Bill Conner, is projecting $14.5 million in sales at the Charlotte County facility with 95 percent of that revenue coming from outside the county, according to its application.

“This is a great opportunity,” District 2 Commissioner Christopher Constance said, following a brief Charlotte County Economic Development Office presentation.

According to the agreement, Megal will create up to 30 full-time jobs but no less than 10, a condition of approval under Charlotte County code.

Megal is expected to hire 17 full-time and one part-time employees in its first year, which likely will be early 2019. Those jobs include a general manager, plant supervisor, welding supervisor, administrator/ bookkeeper, certified welder, general yard handler, senior rigger and marine riggers.

During the second and third years, 13 more full-time positions are expected, according to Megal’s application. Positions likely include sales and marketing, purchasers, design technician, more riggers and welders, service warranty employee and painters.

Of those future employees, 90 percent are estimated to live in Charlotte County, according to Megal’s application. The average salary, according the application, is anticipated to be $40,560 — 115 percent higher than the Charlotte County average income.

Given this qualifier, Megal is also applying for tax credits through the state under Florida’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund (QTI), which is the state’s most widely used incentive program.

QTI was created to encourage the development of high skill jobs and spur growth of corporate headquarters in targeted industries, adding at least 10 positions that pay 115 percent of the annual average wage.

The state application — which requires a local match — is being reviewed, according to a staff report.

Tax incentives for corporations has been a contentious item at the state level as House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, has called the practice “corporate welfare” multiple times. The House passed legislation last session to dismantle Enterprise Florida — the state’s job creation arm — but the measure died in the Senate.