Osceola County's 500-acre NeoCity tech district has potentially landed its first private industry user who has committed to building a 20,000-square-foot lakefront "innovation center."
Commissioners on Monday approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the company, referred to by code name "Project Villach," authorizing County Manager Don Fisher to negotiate the formal development agreement.
The initial terms call for the county to give the company at no cost a 5-acre site with direct access to the district's 155-acre lake, which is under construction now. The user could add 15-contiguous, non-lakefront acres for future expansion.
"This is the first private company looking at investing their own dollars in NeoCity," Fisher told GrowthSpotter Monday night. "This isn't a manufacturing facility -- it's an innovation center. They're going to be working on developing disruptive technologies. It's not a commercial business. The lake access is solely for the purpose of research and testing."
According to the MOU, the company would be testing self-propelled recreational marine vessels.
The parties have 75 days to complete the negotiations and bring a formal agreement to the board for approval. The MOU doesn't specify the company's level of investment, other than to say it would be "significant" and to indicate that the company would employ an unspecified number of high-wage tech workers.
Project Villach will be seeking Job Tax Credits as a Qualified Target Industry, so more details will be revealed through that process. Osceola County would refund the user's property taxes (100 percent for the first five years; 50 percent for the next five years.)
The county also would agree to refund the company up to $50,000 for Project Villach's specialized manufacturing equipment.
Fisher said the county and the company have been in discussions for three months. The MOU was not on the Commisssioners' published agenda, rather it was added at the beginning of the meeting as a consent item.
As an additional incentive, the county has offered to provide free office space at a county-owned building in downtown Kissimmee or at Osceola Heritage Park until the facility is open for business. The county will accelerate the permitting process, including making its inspectors available seven days week, and will issue a temporary certificate of occupancy prior to the building's completion to facilitate early installation.
Fisher said the company is getting such a generous deal because its the first one in the door. "We're making the land available in exchange for the capital investment and job creation," he said.