Plant City has confirmed its support of Home Depot’s proposed regional center Monday evening when commissioners unanimously agreed to a seven-year tax exemption for the company.
Plant City is hoping to bring the hammer home after commissioners unanimously approved a deal to offer a seven-year tax exemption to Home Depot, beginning in 2021.
It’s a project that was a longtime coming and leaders with the Plant City Economic Development Corporation and the city worked tirelessly to prove Plant City was the perfect place for the company to build its new regional center. Called “Project Hammer,” the hope is the tax exemption will help solidify Home Depot’s plans in town and bring the warehouse — and the jobs — to Wiggins Road.
“This validates that we have the ability to compete with every city in central Florida to have Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies select us for their sites for new operations in Plant City,” Mayor Rick Lott said. “With the improvements we’re making to all of our infrastructure, to the investments we have made to the expansion of utilities, it tells us we’re on the right path to bringing in strong companies with great paying jobs.”
Documents submitted to the city show Home Depot wants to build a nearly 800,000-square foot facility, which would come with approximately 150 jobs out of the gate.
City officials said it could grow to 350 positions over time with their average salary landing at approximately $32,000. All in all, it would be a proposed $67 million investment from the company.
Home Depot told the city the site would provide closer access to its customers. Being so close to I-4 and I-75, the regional center would cut down on transportation costs and delivery time for the company.
Years ago, when the city began offering the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, the hope was it would help set the stage for large corporations to consider the strawberry town for future prospects.
Over the past five years, the city has offered the exemption four times, with Home Depot — which is number 27 on the Fortune 500 list — inarguably being one of the biggest prospects to date.
Commissioners voiced their enthusiastic welcome Monday evening with their vote and passed the baton to Home Depot.
“It means our economy is growing and there are more jobs for the people that live in the community, good jobs,” City Manager Bill McDaniel said. “This is a step closer and it’s getting down to the point of no return. We’re getting closer and closer to a done deal.”
When speaking to a representative from Ernst & Young, LLP, who represents Home Depot, Monday evening, Lott said this win may open the doors to countless others. He was told there’s “a lot of chatter” going on among other major companies who have been dutifully watching what was taking place in Plant City.
Lott said this was a “very competitive situation” for Plant City and reflected on all of the “hunts” the city has been on over the past few years searching for the perfect fit for the town. Every time there was a project the city competed to be a part of, Lott said they felt like they were getting closer and closer but would just miss the mark. This time, the dice seemed to have rolled in their favor. Lott said this is “a big win” and really puts Plant City on the map.
He said the incentive that stands out the most in the city is not just its prime location and cooperative city government, but rather the impeccable workforce found among its residents. When a company chooses Plant City, they walk away knowing they’ll receive the character of the community with each local employee they bring onboard.
“Everyone talks about the ease of doing business with Plant City,” Lott said. “It’s a great place to live, but the workforce here is unmatched. That’s something that, if we can continue developing that workforce like we do, that’s the part of the character of our community and we’ll be able to bring in other great companies like that into our community. It just helps the quality of life for everybody.”
Of course, another win in the city’s eye is the domino effect that could occur. Lott said so many other jobs could be created from companies that will have to support the proposed regional center. Having the company in the city’s back yard helps ensure Plant City remains financially strong, which Lott attributes to ensuring it can continue to have some of the lowest tax rates in central Florida.
City commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plans and the ball is now firmly in Home Depot’s court. The red carpet has been unrolled. Now, we wait.