What Flagler County’s economic development council had been referring to as Project Storm since late last fall was revealed today as Coastal Cloud, the subsidiary offshoot of an existing information technology consultancy in Flagler that projects creating 100 jobs over the next three years, and investing upwards of $3 million in what it calls a “delivery center.”
Coastal Cloud will first lease space at the Discovery Center building, the old Ginn sales office at Ocean Hammock. About 18 months to two years later, it will have built its own headquarters somewhere in the county, according to Helga van Eckert, Flagler’s economic development director, and move in by the beginning of year three. By then, the company hopes to be on its way to hiring 100 local employees with an average wage of $46,500.
The jobs qualify it for $500 per job in incentive from Flagler County government (the incentive would be paid in three-part increments over three years, and only after the jobs are produced). As a state-approved Qualified Target Industry, the company will also be eligible for up to $3,000 per new job in tax refunds from the state’s incentive program, with additional incentives available for jobs paying wages at the level being proposed.
It is the second IT company in less than a week to open local doors, virtual though they may be: on Feb. 1, Express Vault, a cloud-storage and maintenance company (also based in Palm Coast), had its ribbon-cutting, with Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts in attendance.
Coastal Cloud was incorporated in late December by Tim and Sara Hale, both of whom made their careers (and met) at Accenture, the colossal management consulting firm, working in IT consulting. In their post-Accenture life, they were building a vacation home in Flagler when they decided to stay here permanently (they’d lived in northern Virginia, where commuting took three hours a day from Tim’s life, he says). Five years ago they incorporated a company called Graphene, and did, on a smaller scale, what they used to do at Accenture. It turned into a multi-million dollar company with some 20 sub-contractors across the country. In Palm Coast, they worked out of Office Divvy, the business incubator, when they needed a physical office at all. Much of their work, like cloud computing, makes physical locations obsolete.
Tim Hale described Coastal Cloud as a “solution center” that provides cloud computing services across the United States and beyond to small-to-medium businesses and public sector agencies.
Cloud computing services can be explained this way: until a few years ago, companies had to manage their computer systems, their data, their storage, their software and the rest of their computing infrastructure on site. It’s expensive. It often requires dedicated personnel. It always required the acquisition of costly software and networking solutions, and so represented either a heavy burden or a prohibitive cost for small to medium companies. Cloud computing made all that physical infrastructure unnecessary. Just as you are now able to connect and “sync” your iPhone’s data with other devices anywhere you go, the cloud makes it possible for companies to do the same with their programs, their data and the rest of it. Instead of having a staffed IT department and a bunker of hardware and software, they contract with a cloud computing firm to manage the job for them, presumably at a far lesser cost.
That’s what Coastal Cloud proposes to do.
“We also expect to develop approximately 100 highly skilled trained employees based here locally, that will be delivering those services,” Hale said. He was speaking to the Flagler County economic development council this morning, by video hook-up from Manchester, N.H., where he was working with Graphene clients. His wife Sara was in the council’s chamber as both outlined the new company’s purpose and approach, and why they chose Flagler as their base.
That comes down to quality of life, and to take advantage of the “backlash” against outsourced and off-shored jobs, including cloud-computing services: many companies, Tim Hale said, are finding that off-shoring the services hasn’t paid dividends as expected, whether because of time lags, communication issues or cost: it may take 10 people abroad to do the job of two in the United States. And the personal services are not as refined. That’s also what the new company intends to develop, at roughly half the $175 to $300-an-hour cost of similar companies that cater to large firms.
The Hales—who also own Hammock Properties—were not recruited by the county’s jobs council, nor does it appear that Coastal Cloud wouldn’t have formed without the council. Nevertheless the company’s formation was aided and guided by van Eckert to connect with key elements the Hales are developing, chiefly among them a skilled workforce and the state’s QTI incentive program. Van Eckert connected the Hales with Daytona State College and the Center for Business Excellence, for example.
“Tim and Sara Hale understand the next generation of workforce, thus allowing them to be more responsive to business needs,” van Eckert said in a release from the county. “By providing their employees with an unparalleled work/play environment, unmatched growth opportunity, and competitive salaries, Coastal Cloud will be in a position to recruit the best candidates in and to the area.”
The county has had its share of promising firms with big build-ups and announcements of jobs to come, only to be disappointed. That was before van Eckert’s tenure and the creation of the council. Since then, a vegetable processing plant, WP Rawl, announced (in November) that it would build a 34,000 square foot processing plant in the county. That building is now fully in construction. Coastal Cloud’s website, which went live today, is posting job openings, and has made a local hire for its PR director: Abby Romaine, one of the candidate for county commission last November.
Coastal Cloud projects 15 employees this year, 35 next year, and 50 in the third year.
“This is great news for the entire county,” Commissioner Barbara Revels, who chairs the council, said in the release. “It is exactly what we had in mind when we created the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity. Attracting a high-tech industry is a home run for our team.”
Much like Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook reader that can store your books in the Cloud to free up space on your reader. Great to have them but jobs I think will be limited to average person looking for work?
The Truth says
When retail and restaurant jobs are available everyone says when are the high paying jobs going to come to Palm Coast, when we get technology related specialized jobs like this that come in some will say that the average person looking for work can’t work here. You have to start somewhere. It’s great to have an opportunity like this in our city and only good things will come of it.
The Truth says
This is a welcome addition to our community. We need diverse companies like this. Technology companies are the future and by having them based in our city we are only preparing ourselves for what is to come. I’m glad to see these two companies opened up in our area and wish them the best.
sly fox says
Sounds great…. are they going to be bringing people in from outside of Flagler County to work there? If so, willl those new hires still qualify for the incentives if they do not live in the Flagler County area? I wonder how many people who live in this area will qualify for employment with this company? Good luck
If I can recollect didn’t the City of Palm Coast give away OUR City Hall to Palm Coast Data for high paying jobs that never materialized. For one dollar, a pretext, a wish and a hope they would have a brand new City Hall in Town Center. Never happened. Taxpayers lost on that deal.
These are Silicon Valley jobs that will only raise the cost of living and create more displaced workers. Most will come from outside the County. These jobs are what Gov Scott and the Tea Party were hooting their horn about. These jobs do little for the average resident and won’t make an honest hounds tooth of difference. What will make a difference is getting an Amazon fulfillment Center but I am only dreaming.
another voice says
I don’t know why there’s this prevailing wisdom that there can’t possibly be people in this county that are actually qualified to work at this kind of tech job. It’s wrong, is what it is.
Trust me, there are plenty of people in this town who would work in the county–on the beachside, to boot, sounds like–instead of having to commute daily from here to Heathrow, Lake Mary or beyond. As a matter of fact, I am one of them, so I’ll be applying for one of those jobs. Today. Thanks, Flagler Live, for the links to the company website.
Sherry Epley says
WOW! Here we are again assuming that we deserve LESS. . . in the form of low paying jobs filled by less educated employees. There are factions in our citizenry that have some low self esteem issues.
These companies are trying to create middle income jobs that motivate our young adults to attend college and compete for them. Why the assumption that they will be filled from outside Flagler county? Are there no highly educated, technical experts in Flager who are unemployed or under employed?
Tim Hale says
Sherry – thanks for your encouragement. You are correct about our intent and we do believe there is local talent that is under-utilized and/or having to travel to JAX, Orlando, etc for careers. We home to provide an attractive local alternative for that local talent.
Deep South says
This is is a start. Finally a Hi Tech Company coming to Flagler County. Now do we have a qualified labor force that can work in Hi Tech ?. I don’t see to many jobs in Flagler that require a college degrees.
There aren’t many jobs here right now that require a college degree – that’s the whole point! We NEED jobs that require a higher education. Then, just maybe, our college graduate children won’t have to move out of the state just to find employment that pays more than a couple of dollars above minimum wage.
Deep South says
@Helene, I totally agree. I have 2 kids, that grew up here in Flagler County, went off to college, graduated from college, and now live in different parts of the country.
Tim Hale says
Deep South, we agree and that is one of the key reasons we are building Coastal Cloud here in Flagler. We want to give local talent another option to stay and work locally, thus enjoying the ‘best of both’ – excellent quality of life and engaging, rewarding professional career. Who knows, maybe we’ll even be able to lure some of that departed talent back home. I hope so.
Thanks for your support & encouragement.
Amazon fulfillment Centers are low paying sweat shops that employ temps, mostly located in low income rural areas, they’re the Walmart of the online industry and just like Walmart have shitty labor practices in many of their fulfillment centers.
With the geniuses at Flagler County’s economic development council past record giving away our money, I’m surprised to hear it’s not a fancy new Hi-tech company gonna’ build a thing called Atari. You can play stuff like these frogs trying to cross a road and a-gettin’ smashed and stuff. Gonna’ be The Bee’s Knees, just watch!
another voice says
Yes, we do have a qualified workforce in this county. Why do some of you insist on assuming that we don’t? Seriously, I’m asking.
You got that right Norton! Our officials have this devotion to throw our hard earned taxes to these many a charlatans that end up being bluffs! Meanwhile do not care to properly support our small existing businesses and suppliers the real pillars of our local economy by still outsourcing over frivolous excuses.
christina b says
What do you have against high-tech jobs, confidential? I also kknow a number of folks who live right here in Flagler that could do jobs like this.
And what do you mean by “real pillars of the community”? Are you insinuating that Coastal Cloud isn’t part of the community? That’s just rude.
Christine the real pillars of the community are the existing business for 10, 15, 20 and plus years that never needed or asked for taxpayers monies in subsidies, tax exemptions, relocating expenses refunds or money incentives (pay off’s) per employee hired and have been operating here and employing and contributing to this community tax revenue without ever being mentioned by either government ED’s or Chamber or the like. To the contrary they even have to endure from some of those entities undermining outsourcing. I sincerely hope that Coastal Cloud will become another pillar of this community and a successful one, but so far I see lots of our taxes commitments to Cloud. for a very long term projected results. Sounds to me like Cakes Across, Ginn, Centex, Palm Coast Data, etc etc. Is fishy when a business ask for taxpayers funds up front , as we the real pillars of this community started ours on our own dime.
Virginia Giaramita says
Flagler Technical Institute, right here in Palm Coast, will be happy to train residents in computer technology. Coastal Cloud, let FTI know what your training needs are.
Georgia Peach says
Don’t you need to know something about computer technology BEFORE asking people to spend their money to have Flagler Technical Institute TRAIN them in this field ? Someone’s head is in the “CLOUDS”.