WINTER HAVEN – The Winter Haven City Commission passed a resolution July 8 approving a $20,000 tax incentive package to lure an advanced manufacturing business to Winter Haven.

According to city documents, the business could employ around 90 residents, with 40 of those jobs being classified as high-wage.

By Florida Statute 288.106, the process of approving such an incentive can be done in secret, allowing the employer to weigh options before making a public announcement. In this instance, the unnamed employer is being referred to as “Project Spigot” in city documents.

Another example of this practice occured a couple of years ago, when the Polk County Commission used the code words “Project Rotag” to discuss tax incentives for Nucor — a global steel manufacturer that local officials successfully convinced to open a location in Polk County, near the Highlands County line.

In that instance, the county was responsible for 20 percent of the up-front costs, with state tax dollars covering the remaining amount.

In this instance, since the business may move into city limits, the City of Winter Haven is responsible for paying half of the local costs. Polk County government would be responsible for paying the other $20,000 in up-front local costs. State tax dollars, if approved, would pay the remaining $208,000.

“We have been working with the company since January and are excited that they are coming to Winter Haven,” Winter Haven Economic Development Council Program Manager Julie Sands said. “We expect that the details will be released in a couple of weeks.”

The Polk County Commission will discuss Project Spigot July 16.

“We believe it is important for Winter Haven and Polk County's long-term economy to grow our manufacturing sector and the creation of goods locally, not just the storage and distribution of already manufactured goods,” said Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce President Katie Worthington Decker.

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.

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