It is code named “Project Purple” and the company behind it promises to bring a $400 million investment to Putnam County.
County officials expect to know within the next 10 days if the project is a reality. Last month, Putnam County Board of Commissioners voted to approve an incentive package for the company.
“I can confirm we are working with a company that is considering Putnam County for an investment,” says Brian Bergen, Putnam County’s Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Economic Development. “It is a competitive project and they are looking at other states.”
Not much is known about “Project Purple” but here is what is known:
-The company promises to have a four-hundred-million-dollar investment.
-The company will create at least 70 jobs.
-The county will pay the company nearly $230,000 over five years if they meet both goals.
And that is where the controversy lies.
“Can we afford this? What is the estimated tax revenue we will receive?” said one concern citizen during a recent Board of Commissioners meeting. “My problem is if the number of employees remains at 70 or above, we owe $16 milion.”
“Most rural counties don’t see this kind of investment anytime, perhaps in 20 or 30 years and sometimes never,” Bergen says.
Other things known about the mysterious company: they plan to expand their “business by the additional of modern industrial machinery.” The company also applied for a rural county economic development grant worth $16 million.
“It is money they would be paying as part of their taxes and it would be given back to them as a grant.”
Some residents of Putnam County think “Project Purple” could add more than just 70 jobs and that it could be a lasting positive impact.
A $4 million investment by the company would be the current largest investment by a single company. Currently, Florida Power and Light invest the most at $260 million dollars in Putnam County.
“It would make a bigger impact on us than a larger county,” says local business owner Greg Bacon. He owns City Shippers and serves as on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Bacon believes “Project Purple” could have a positive impact on other businesses such as restaurants and locally owned shops.
According to stats provided by Bergen, the medium income for Putnam County is $32,054 and the current unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, higher than the national rate of 4.3 percent.