Mystery project at Melbourne airport gets millions from Florida

Group critical of effort says state should ID company before approval

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's a company that's promising to spend nearly $500 million and bringing 1,800 high-paying jobs to Melbourne International Airport by 2020, but who is this mystery company?

"It's aviation related. It's a major significant company and we'll be proud to have them be a part of our community," said Lynda Weatherman, President and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast.

Weatherman wouldn't tell Local 6 the name of the company who has its eyes set on moving to Melbourne, but did say it will have a significant economic impact on the county.

According to documents filed to Brevard County commissioners, the deal, known as "Project Magellan," would directly bring in 1,800 aerospace-related jobs that pay an average of $100,000 per year.

Weatherman said, "It shows you that this area is exceptional, the state's exceptional and we compete on a national level."

Despite the mystery, Tuesday night a state legislative panel approved a request by Governor Scott to give the company $21 million in incentives.

Some critics say the state should identify the company before approving such a large amount of money, but state statute 288.075 allows the company to remain in secrecy.

The statute says that a company can request confidentiality of its plans, intentions and interests in locating its business activities in the state of Florida.

"We prefer not to have a confidential project, but if the client wishes to work it out within reason and make sure you keep pushing the ball forward, then that's what you do," said Weatherman.

This isn't the first time a company has wanted to remain confidential until a final decision was made. In 2008, "Project Jaguar" remained a secret while negotions between the EDC and Melbourne International Airport were finalized. "Project Jaguar" turned out to be Embraer Executive Jets.

Companies sign confidentiality agreements so that their competitors aren't aware of their plans before they make a final decision.

Economic leaders tell Local 6 that the "Project Magellan" deal should be made by next month.

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