MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A luxury yacht manufacturer is considering opening a plant on Merritt Island, and employing 380 people there by 2018.
According to county documents, an unnamed company said it planned to make a $16.2 million capital investment over the next four years at the site at 1220 Bertram Way, which now is operated by Bertram Yachts. Most of that investment would be for new manufacturing equipment.
Local 6 News partner Florida Today reports the company plans to seek county tax incentives totaling $1.16 million, spread over 10 years, according to documents filed with Brevard County. It would pay $1.15 million in new property taxes during that time span.
The Brevard County Commission on Tuesday will have a preliminary discussion of those incentives, as well as a related action that could make the company eligible for state tax incentives, by designating it as a "qualified target industry business."
The company's identity was not disclosed in the documents for competitive reasons. It is being referred to as "Project Transom."
Its application indicates that the company would have 380 employees earning an average wage of $45,000.
The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast estimates that the 380 jobs would lead to 290 spinoff jobs. The total of 670 jobs would have a total annual payroll of $28.46 million and contribute $37.67 million a year to the local economy.
Trudy McCarthy, senior director of operations for the Economic Development Commission, said it is the EDC's understanding that Project Transom would assume the lease for the Merritt Island facility from Bertram, which has been downsizing its local operations.
In a statement filed with the county, Project Transom said: "Florida is only one of the states being considered for this facility, and tax abatement and other incentives will play a huge role in making the final location decision. We are close to making our decision, and time is of the essence."
The company promised "50 new, well-paying jobs the first year, 110 in year two, 180 in year three and 380 in year four, and it won't stop there." It predicted "an unprecedented growth potential."
The company said it wants a factory along the U.S. East Coast "to serve the growing needs of our customers" for 60- to 90-foot-long luxury yachts. It plans to initially build its yachts for luxury yacht brand Ocean Alexander.
Project Transom said "a base of experienced boat-builders is a plus, as it will shorten the training cycle, and an on-water location for product delivery is an absolute must."
The company said it likely would sell 60 percent of its boats to out-of-state customers during the first year. And it would begin exporting its yachts internationally in its second year of operation.
Bertram in 2012 announced plans to move its yacht manufacturing operations from Miami to Merritt Island, at the 37-acre site of a former Sea Ray Boats facility. It said at the time that it planned to employ 221 people on Merritt Island within two years.
But EDC officials believe Bertram did not reach those projections.
Bertram was approved for Brevard County tax breaks as part of its move from Miami. But the company never received them, because it did not meet its hiring or capital investment goals, according to Brevard County Manager Stockton Whitten.
Bertram officials could not be reached for comment Friday.