*NEWS*P.B.COUNTY OFFERS O.DEPOT $MILLION$

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*NEWS*P.B.COUNTY OFFERS O.DEPOT $MILLION$

 user 2006-07-24 at 10:42:00 am Views: 64
  • #16273

    Palm Beach County offers Office Depot millions to stay
    JULY
    2006,Wary of losing Office Depot’s trophy corporate headquarters and
    hundreds of high-paying jobs to another state, Palm Beach County
    commissioners said Tuesday they are willing to give the retailer as
    much as $6.5 million in tax breaks.The Delray Beach-based retailer long
    ago outgrew its Congress Avenue headquarters and said in 2003 that it
    hoped to build a 600,000-square-foot home in Boca Raton.But Office
    Depot has yet to break ground on its new $210 million home. Tuesday was
    the first time county economic boosters acknowledged that the Boca move
    isn’t a done deal and that other states are wooing Office Depot’s
    1,750-employee headquarters.County officials said Georgia, Tennessee,
    North Carolina and South Carolina have offered incentives to lure
    Office Depot, which ranks 154th on the Fortune 500 list of the nation’s
    biggest companies.Meanwhile, Office Depot is pondering opening a Latin
    American headquarters in Boca Raton, although the retailer also is
    considering offers from Mexico and Brazil.County commissioners gave
    preliminary approval to a tax break that would be worth $650,000 a year
    for 10 years. “If we don’t do this, they will leave,” Commissioner Mary
    McCarty said.The state also is considering $10 million in
    incentives.Office Depot spokesman Brian Levine said the incentives will
    sway the company as it decides whether to move a few miles south or
    hundreds of miles north. “Our move to Boca Raton is contingent on a
    final economic analysis that includes receiving incentives from the
    county and the state,” Levine said.The company also has begun to think
    hard about the effects of hurricanes and the rising costs of
    construction in South Florida, he said.”Like many other businesses, we
    have been challenged by the unique risk of South Florida’s weather as
    well as by increased construction and infrastructure costs,” Levine
    said. “While other states have expressed significant interest in this
    project, our desire is to maintain and grow our global presence in Palm
    Beach County.”As part of the county tax break, Office Depot would agree
    to keep the existing full-time jobs with an average salary of $77,269,
    not including benefits. It also would add 580 jobs with an average
    salary of $76,792.Kelly Smallridge, president of the Business
    Development Board of Palm Beach County, said keeping Office Depot over
    the years has been one of the county’s biggest economic development
    victories. Its $14 billion in sales in 2005 rank it ahead of the
    county’s only other Fortune 500 company, FPL Group of Juno
    Beach.”Office Depot could go anywhere,” Smallridge said, “They’re
    international, and they have stores everywhere. To have a company like
    that in your community speaks volumes.”Office Depot has been based in
    Palm Beach County since the 1980s, but Smallridge said the area’s
    rising costs mean it’s no sure thing the retailer will stay here.”We’ve
    put together a solid package that shows this company we’re serious
    about keeping them in Palm Beach County,” Smallridge said.