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Flagler Approves $150,000 in Incentives for LED Company That Would Bring 300 Jobs

| June 17, 2013

Shedding  an LED light on a new jobs-incentive package.  (Fagerhult)

Shedding an LED light on a new jobs-incentive package. (Fagerhult)

The Flagler County Commission Monday evening unanimously approved granting a performance-based $150,000 incentive package to an LED lighting manufacturing company that would create 300 well-paying jobs and build a plant in the county over the next three years.

The county is keeping the company’s name secret, identifying the plan as “Project Green Dream,” and describing the company as “a world-leading producer of high-technology electronics solutions and innovative LED lighting products for the aviation, marine, vehicle, mining, industrial, and obstruction warning/safety markets.”

The closest match to such a company is Aveo Engineering, whose LED lights have been appended to planes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, on hangars and at airports and in other places. The company, owned by Christian Nielsen—a Navy veteran—has been a registered business in Palm Coast and Naples since 2010, and lists Palm Coast first among the several cities where it does business (among them Pribram, in the Czech Republic, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Birmingham in England and Mumbai).  It is part of the Aveo Group of affiliated companies, all of which make LED-related, green-energy products. (A previous version of this story referred to Nielsen as being of Palm Coast. In fact, while a Miami native and the owner of residential property in the Hammock, he is a resident of the Czech Republic.)

“This could be just be really, really big for Flagler County if this moves forward, so be very excited about this,” Barbara Revels, the county commissioner who chairs the county’s economic development advisory board, said Monday evening.

The company, according to the county, would create 300 jobs over three years—50 the first year, 100 the second year, and 150 the third year. For each job created and retained at least four years, the county would provide a $500 incentive. That payment would be made over four years, in increments of $125 per year, as long as the jobs are, in fact, produced. The deal requires all new jobs to be awarded to people living within 40 miles of the company’s operations. The company will have to send the county a report on its job creation and retention “at least every six months,” according to the agreement.

The average salary for the new jobs would be $43,379, or 150 percent above the county’s average annual wage.

The average salary is different from the median salary, which would more accurately reflect the mid-point range of most salaries. By averaging out salaries, a company can include its highest paid brass with rank and file employees, so that a $1 million salary combined with three dozen $30,000 salaries would produce an average salary of $56,000. The deal does not specify explicitly whether the average calculation will exclude executives. It notes that “at a minimum, the certification must include an annual written progress report verifying the number of existing permanent, full time Local Jobs, their wages, and the average wage of said employees.”

The company anticipates a capital investment of $7.5 million, including construction of a new facility and equipment. There’s no word yet on where that facility would be.

The 300 new jobs would, when all on the books, yield an annual payroll of $13 million, excluding benefits and raises. Helga van Eckert, Flagler’s director of economic development, provided the company’s more impressive aggregate payroll investment over several years–$73 million.

“So there’s a substantial investment from the company in the community,” van Eckert said, in exchange for the county’s $150,000. “There’s a substantial investment when it comes to training and benefits that’ll be provided to our residents.”

Van Eckert noted that “one of the benefits of the jobs being phased in the way that they are is that it allows us to get residents in the community up to par if they wanted to work with them, so we provide training through Daytona State or some other venue with the Center for Business Excellence.”

The county, before van Eckert’s tenure, has a long record of making such promises, with little to show for it. Eckert’s operation, along with the county’s advisory council, have promised a more reliable approach. They’ve also promised a more transparent one, though state law allows local governments to keep their business prospects secret, though once money has been approved as part of a package, a clock ticks and compels revelation after a set period of time.

“This is a world-wide company with a great bio,” Revels said.

The state’s Department of Economic Opportunity has also agreed to an incentive package for the new company.

Nielsen, the CEO of Aveo—and previously the CEO of Lake Forest, Ill.-based StarTek, an LED affiliate of Aveo—is said to have decided to develop his own brand of LED lights when the wingtip lights on his own Cessna would fail in below-freezing temperatures, as they did on Arctic Circle-crossing trips to Europe.

Calling itself “brilliantly different,” Aveo is a brashly independent company that wears its flag on its sleeve and doesn’t suffer the competition lightly. “If they want to flag-wave, bring it on,” Nielsen writes—in an open letter to the aviation industry called, with no hint of modesty, “The 7 Wonders of Aveo Engineering Lights—“but we provide more jobs and economic impact in the USA than anyone who claims to solely be American, as our company makes its lights for aerospace, marine, commercial, industrial, architectural, mining, construction, and street lighting all from American components, and these go to the entire global marketplace, meaning significant exports of American goods.”

21 Responses for “Flagler Approves $150,000 in Incentives for LED Company That Would Bring 300 Jobs”

  1. Bunnell Resident says:

    Awesome! When need more companies and more industry here.

  2. Gramps212 says:

    Not to sound so bleak, and not that the county hasn’t had the wool pulled over their eyes before, but sounds like another Ginn deal. Guess we’ll see what promises they’ll keep.

  3. Question Authority says:

    Where’s the list of all the companies to whom the County and cities have given incentives and the jobs that have been produced? What happened to the hose manufacturer at the County’s airport hangar or Palm Coast Data? Reminds me of when a major league team negotiates to get the best deal possible and the locals get stuck with the bill.

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    Really Great News! We will be looking for more details as they surface!

    • MF says:

      YES! It is really great news. This is an already established extremely successful company wanting to expand its business in our desperately needing industry Flagler County. Instead of complaining about the small incentives you should just say Welcome Aboard Aveo & Thanks for coming! This isn’t some pie ion the sky company hoping to be successful. They already have done that on a global level.
      Finally, Palm Coast will offer jobs other than retail or flipping burgers! For those who gripe about the minor incentive of $150K for a company whose payroll will exceed $10M annually, maybe start complaining about Obama’s upcoming $100M vacay in the Serengetti!! Talk about wasting our money.
      Once again…..thanks again Aveo for choosing Flagler County!!

  5. Magnolia says:

    When a government makes special concessions without telling you all the details, watch out. Would love to see something like that here, but not going to hold my breath.

    Our commission dreams big, produces little. Prove me wrong. Lots of “would be, could be’s here.

  6. Ron says:

    I think it’s a good idea to tie these kind of incentives to actual results, as is the case here.

    If for some reason this falls through and no jobs are created, then no incentives will be paid.

  7. blondee says:

    Haven’t we been down this road before? Palm Coast Data comes to mind….

  8. Bob Z. says:

    Some people will complain about anything…small incentives for potentail employers should be welcomed.

  9. Ron Hubbard says:

    More government green dream fantasies. Hope this one does not turn in another pipe dream that goes up in smoke like all of corrupt glorious leader obama’s fiascos.

    • Ron says:

      I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure that President Obama was not involved in the decision to offer these incentives to this company.

  10. Geezer says:

    Dell Webb, where have you gone?

  11. Anonymous says:

    they are all counting their chickens before they hatch, remember the promises made to the city from palm coast data. Eckert’s prediction that 73 million the company will generate over the next several years is nothing more than a prediction

  12. confidential says:

    Hubbard…why don’t you stop bashing Obama? I only agree with you that this will be another costly mirage to the county taxpayers. Simply because they pay de- ja- vu.

  13. Jerry M says:

    Another local that’s been living in the community for four years that knocked on the county door and says give me money; wow.

    Can Helga recruit any business that’s not already in Flagler County?

  14. Sherry Epley says:

    How in the world can President Obama be blamed for this. . . along with everything else??? I stubbed my toe today. . . I guess the liberal administration is to blame for that also. Please can we create a POSITIVE attitude in our community instead of doubting EVERYTHING and blaming the political party we happen not to like. We speak for our culture. We are the change. Don’t we want to start believing in a brighter future, or will we continue to spout divisive words of prejudice and doubt? If we don’t start pulling together and work in a positive way, we will reap the terrible future that we sow

  15. Anonymous says:

    The county needs to cut a deal that the company employs Flagler County residents first. This will bring a ROI for the incentives for the employees thus keeping the money here in Flagler.

  16. CF for AVEO says:

    Just want to say, before all the bashing, everyone should look up this company and check it out. I know first hand that this company is a very successful company. They have been in business for many years. The county is trying to make more jobs for us here in Flagler. Start thinking out of the box and do your homework. By the way, as of right now they haven’t received a penny from the county and Flagler County is not going to just hand over that much money without good reason. AVEO is an excellent company, especially to work with.

    • Magnolia says:

      It isn’t the company they are bashing, it is the county. Their efforts in the past have been most unsuccessful.

      Every citizen in Flagler County would welcome such an endeavor. However, we have seen this county spend millions and come up with nothing.

  17. Gary says:

    When do I apply! I have B. S. in Mechanical Engineering and A. S. in Computer Programming (Software Engineering). Opps! I forgot I’m 58 years old. Nobody will hire me.

    • Magnolia says:

      Gary, I think you are wrong. You won’t be with a company long enough for them to have to pay you a lifetime’s retirement. You will cost them less than someone younger and you will be more reliable.

      Why are you not working now?

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