P.BEACH COUNTY OFFERS O.DEPOT…$MILLION$

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P.BEACH COUNTY OFFERS O.DEPOT…$MILLION$

 user 2006-07-24 at 10:41:00 am Views: 64
  • #16335

    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.