FedEx will have a 10-year sliding scale of exemptions on both its ad valorem and tangible personal property taxes

FORT PIERCE – The St. Lucie County Commission voted unanimously Dec. 15 to approve a sliding scale of ad valorem and personal property tax exemptions to facilitate the construction of a $30-plus million regional FedEx Ground distribution center in the Southern Grove Jobs Corridor in Tradition.

Economic Development Council President Pete Tesch offered a brief PowerPoint presentation to tee off the incentive package resolution before the Board that evening, which would eliminate 100 percent of the taxes the first five years. The remaining five years would each see an exemption reduction of 20 percent annually. Just a week prior, Mr. Tesch had surprised the Port St. Lucie City Council with a toy FedEx truck as his way of revealing the identify of Project Denny, the prospective first tenant wooed to the new 85-acre Legacy Park section of Southern Grove being developed by the St. Louis-based Sansone Group.

“It will be a 245,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility on 22 acres,” he said. “There will be approximately $29.1 million in machinery, equipment and capital investment with an overall investment of about $45 million when you include the facility.”

FedEx Ground plans on hiring 40 full-time employees and 450 part-time drivers once the facility has been constructed, with an annual reoccurring payroll of $2.6 million. Mr. Tesch emphasized that the full-time positions would surpass the average earnings per worker in St. Lucie County.

“The average wage of $49,000 is actually 124 percent of our average earnings per worker, a capital investment of $44 million,” he added. “The actual construction of the facility will have a one-time sales output of over $24 million, and when you include direct and indirect and induced jobs on the construction side, we have about 253 jobs. When you include just the direct, full-time employees, there’s induced and indirect jobs of another 19, so about 59 to 60 jobs will be created just on the FTEs alone.”

Sansone Industrial Development Director Jeff Greenwalt then addressed the Commission virtually, reaffirming his firm’s excitement at being able to inaugurate the first phase of the 298-acre industrial and business park from the ground up.

“This is going to be a great kickoff to the Legacy Park at Tradition, which we hope in 2021 we’re before you again multiple times with other applications,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of activity on the site, [and] we’re very, very excited about it.”

FedEx representative Sam Adamson, who’d also addressed the Port St. Lucie City Council the week before via the Zoom platform, echoed those sentiments.

“FedEx is really excited to be with you this morning, and we’re excited to present our project,” he said. “We thank you and we’re looking forward to your support on this project.”

Right before the Board approved the incentive package, Chairman Chris Dzadovsky wanted the residents of St. Lucie County to understand that such tax abatement programs were not “cash giveaways.”

“These are basically reimbursement opportunities in which a private company or investor invests X amount of dollars prior to receiving any benefit,” he said. “Those investments – in this case $44-plus million – would not be coming to St. Lucie County if these tax abatements were not offered. We have a tool in our toolbox with which we’re able to compete with other counties, not only around the state but around the country, when we’re trying to attract different businesses. The tax abatement is a taxpayer approved, voted-in tool that we use.”

Chairman Dzadovsky also emphasized the cooperative effort it took between the county and the City of Port St. Lucie to win the hand of FedEx Ground.

“What’s really important here is the City of Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County’s cooperation in trying to bring these types of things forward,” he said. “When we do impact fee credits, that’s like real cash to the county, so those types of elements are actually very important for these developments in Port St. Lucie. St. Lucie County has supported the economic driver that Port St. Lucie wants to be. So I think it’s always important to recognize the relationships that Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County have had for the greater benefit of the entire county.”

The relationship between St. Lucie County and the City of Port St. Lucie might not be as rosy as Chairman Dzadovsky painted according to recent actions by officials of the latter. Perhaps unbeknownst to the County Commission chairman, the Port St. Lucie Council had decided the night before to cancel both its roads and parks impact fee agreements with the county over its apparent frustration with those agreements and the alleged perception that the county did not want to discuss those issues with that board.

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