Kenneth Brown Chairman of Lionchase Holdings out of Washington DC, the company with whom the county brokered the “Project Diamond” incentive deal spoke to the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday Feb. 27, 2018.
To review, Lionchase Holdings plans to build a 200,000 square foot warehouse at the Brooksville Tampa Bay Regional Airport, creating 60 new jobs by 2021 with an average wage of $37,506. The warehouse represents a $22 million capital investment. County incentives include a $180,000 job creation incentive, $420,000 land lease incentive (over 5 years) and $217,000 building permit and impact fees mitigation.
Brown began by acknowledging the role the county’s Economic Development Manager Valerie Pianta played in bringing “Project Diamond” to the county.
“That’s really the impetus for us being here,” said Brown of Pianta’s energy and hardwork.
On Feb. 13, 2018 the Board approved the financial incentives package to seal the deal, which represented about 4 years of work on the part of Pianta and Economic Development Director Len Sossamon.
Brown provided some information as to their plans for the 200,000 square foot warehouse and how they became involved in warehouse distribution.
“As far as our group is concerned, it’s family-owned, private equity. (That) basically means we invest in operating assets as opposed to investing in a security. We got very very interested in infrastructure. Infrastructure basically ties everything that’s privately owned, whether it’s water sewer, solar power… Cold storage was an ideal opportunity for us … It had a huge demand for infrastructure and is in huge demand right now.”
He pointed to the growing ‘warehouse to consumer’ phenomena where warehouses ship directly to the consumer like Amazon or Walmart.
“So many other large groups are changing their thinking about shipping goods,” Brown remarked. He explained that there is a 5% vacancy rate in the US in terms of warehouse property. “Everyone is out there bidding up warehouse space around the country.”
It’s also become more technologically oriented with automation and temperature control opportunities.
“With all those things, we are working as hard as we can to get in the markets that are growing, that have the capability to support warehouse growth,” said Brown.
“Working with Valerie has been fantastic. This is a great opportunity for us. Everybody that we’ve talked to is real excited about this Hernando County opportunity.
Hernando County has the best of everything... I’ve spent a lot of time in Tampa and everyone is talking about the growth here.”
“As far as the incentives are concerned we’re really excited about that,” Brown said. He commented that the competitive advantage given to them really means a lot to their outside partners. “We’re really excited about all that you’ve done to help move this project forward.”
“We want to let you folks know that we are welcoming you here,” said Commissioner Dukes. “Our housing market crashed like everybody else’s did. Anytime a person like yourself is interested enough to bring a new industry here, giving new jobs is an asset for this county.”