Collier County OKs $2.2 million in economic incentives for Arthrex

Collier County commissioners approved contracts for Arthrex Inc. to receive $2.2 million in economic incentives for two expansion projects that will create 600 new jobs over five years.

The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Georgia Hiller dissenting.

She raised questions about the contract terms, namely where it was spelled out in the documents that the county would have the right to attach a lien to the property if Arthrex doesn’t live up to terms for the incentives.

One of the projects involves building a 160,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Ave Maria on land owned by the Barron Colliers Co. The other expansion will be 100,000-square-foot addition at Arthrex’s campus in North Naples.

Golden Gate Estates resident Peter Gaddy, who heads up the Coalition for Open Economic Development, told commissioners he believed the contract language was not clear enough and does not spell out details that the jobs would be based in Collier. Lee County’s economic incentive contracts are more precise, he said.

“Taxpayers do not want to pay for jobs that may exist outside of the county, outside of the state or outside of the country,” he said.

Commissioner Donna Fiala pointed out that Arthrex, a medical device manufacturing firm with a proven track record, also has an expansion project going in Lee. She said Lee county leaders would be more than happy to get the 600 jobs proposed for Collier.

Amy Patterson, the county’s economic development manager, told commissioners the jobs all have to be based in Collier. County Attorney Jeff Klatzkow said he believes the property owner has agreed that a lien could be placed against the property.

Coletta said the county must convey to businesses that it is business friendly and open to companies coming here or expanding.

“If the intent here is to destroy any economic development, I give Commissioner Hiller credit,” he said. “Congratulations.”

In other business:

■ Commissioners agreed to add a provision to the November ballot that will allow the Collier County School District to ask voters to renew its millage referendum.

Four years ago, voters approved a measure that allowed the district to take .25 mils from its capital funds, which pays for things like the construction of new schools, to its general fund, which pays for things like teachers’ salaries and other operating expenses.

The referendum, which will give the district about $14 million in additional general funds each year, needs a vote of 50 percent plus one to pass.

■ Commissioners voted 4-1 to lift a requirement that the county review every two years whether the Jones Mine east of Immokalee Road is in compliance with county rules.

Commissioner Georgia Hiller voted no, citing complaints from a mine neighbor that other commissioners dismissed as off the mark.

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