Cheney Brothers

Cheney Brothers is expanding and has requested a tax break from Charlotte County.

PUNTA GORDA — One of the county's bigger companies, Cheney Brothers Inc., is expanding and asking Charlotte County for a tax break.

The request from the food distribution company is for a 10-year tax abatement of $569,175 in exchange for $8.6 million in proposed new construction at the company's site at Punta Gorda Airport, 1 Cheney Way.

CBI is also committing to hiring an additional 30 people with an average salary of $48,000, according to documents released by the Charlotte County government.

"They're an amazing private company," said Economic Development Director Dave Gammon. "You drive by their location and see how clean and nice it is...Their investment in our county is spectacular."

County commissioners will vote Tuesday on scheduling a 10 a.m. public hearing Sept. 24 on the tax proposal. The hearing would be at the commission's regular meeting at Murdock Circle.

Cheney is currently operating under its first, 10-year tax abatement agreement that began in 2016 shortly after the company opened its facility here. County commissioners then approved a 100% property tax abatement for the Riveria Beach-based company in exchange for the initial construction and a promise to hire 380 people in those 10 years.

Three years later, CBI has already surpassed that figure, with 467 people currently employed in Punta Gorda with an average salary of $62,122, according to the company tax abatement application.

The newest resolution on which commissioners will vote uses the company's quick compliance with the first tax abatement as good reason to offer another.

CBI also noted in its application that it would consider expanding at its Ocala location should it not receive a tax advantage here in Charlotte County.

CBI did not immediately return the Sun's calls Wednesday for comment.

The county's Economic Development Office calculated a wide range of future costs and benefits for the deal, using a software modeling package. The model estimates, among many figures, the likely costs to the county for things like more government administration, school costs, water and sewer and public safety expenses. The figure for total likely costs of the project to the county over 10 years, above the tax loss, is $520,558.

Then, the model estimates the many benefits to the county ranging from new service jobs , to new sales tax revenue to new building permits and new residential real estate taxes. That figure minus the tax incentive was $1.2 million over 10 years.

CBI started as a small family business in the 1920s in West Palm Beach and has grown to annual sales of $2 billion with 3,000 employees in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia.


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