I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Bold, Decisive Leadership Needed to Approve ST Engineering Aerospace Deal

I was proud to be a signatory to the original MOU for Project Titan back in October--now it is crunch time and I hope we can get this win for Escambia County and Pensacola--I hope we can get this project over the line!

I strongly support economic development, job diversification, and making our economy locally more resilient to the inevitable financial stresses and downturns that come and go in cycles.  High-tech jobs provide this diversification, and I support seeking these employers for our area.

If we follow through with Project Titan as we have planned
Pensacola and Escambia County will experience a huge
economic benefit from this effort
The project to bring a large MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) facility to Pensacola has been ongoing for the last 8 years.  While I was on the school board in 2012-2013-the local school district's vocational education department began preparing for these jobs.  The city of Pensacola pushed for these jobs. The County chipped in $Millions.  In 2018, the first hangar opened for business and we now have ST Engineering, the world's largest Aviation MRO provider with a significant presence in Escambia County.  (in addition our area boasts the world's largest credit union NFCU, and Ascend Performance Materials the world's largest producer of nylon 6 resin).  Having world-wide industry leaders in Escambia County is a GREAT thing to pursue and to have!

Now-- as we press for the next steps in creating the ST Engineering MRO campus in Pensacola that will employ an additional 1,325 citizens at above average salaries--we have run into a funding shortfall.

The County committed $10 Million to the effort last year, as did the city.

But some other funding sources needed to complete the deal have fallen short.   We are being asked to commit an additional $5 Million to the effort from the county.  I think we need to do this.

Here is why I support pushing forward with this project:

---1325 new jobs will be added that will pay an average of $46K per year plus benefits.  This payroll influx will stimulate housing and retail purchases that will also generate sales tax and property tax revenues for the County

---More than 70 local companies currently do business and supply ST Engineering with goods and services--this expansion of ST will increase sales of goods and services for these and other ST purveyor companies. 

---The 1325 new jobs plus the 400 existing jobs created from ST Engineering's Hangar 1 project will spin off an estimated 3,400 ancillary jobs in our community.

---Upon completion of the build out-ST engineering will pay $1.7 Million yearly in local taxes (County, City, School Board)--of which an estimated $652,470.00 yearly will come to the BCC.

---Millions of dollars will be spent locally and Hundreds of  additional temporary jobs will be created locally to support the design and construction of this campus if the project moves forward.

This project will provide good jobs to the community and a ladder to the middle class that many residents currently do not have.  The naysayers have come out in force to try and kill this project spouting propaganda and rhetoric like... "The amount of money per job is $XXXX--and that's too much" or "We can't afford to do this--we need to pay for infrastructure needs"  Here is the reality that disputes the naysayers--at least in my opinion.

The $210 Million should not be looked at as an amount of money per job...rather, it should be looked at as a pot of money that will be PAYING FOR PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE at the airport---assets that once built will spin revenue out for the city and county and assets that from the point of construction going forward will be the property of the citizens of our community.

And from my perspective as a County Commissioner--we will benefit greatly from leveraging all the benefits of this $210 Million Dollar project (compiled from multiple funding sources) for an investment of just over 7% of the total cost of the project (if we vote to add the $5 Million on Thursday to our original $10 Million commitment bringing our total commitment to $15 Million).  7% to get the benefits we will get is a fantastic deal. And if we look at what the county's tax dollars are paying per job--that number is actually just over $11,000.00 per job.  Do the math, $15 Million divided by 1325 new direct jobs.

Finally, the naysayers do not accept the reality of the situation when they talk about how expensive they believe this project is;  Remember to always think realistically when assessing the arguments of these naysayers.  These folks would have you believe that if we do not do this project, somehow we can still control and receive the benefit of the total project investment locally.  But this is simply not true.  If we do not push this forward, the $56 Million Triumph investment likely goes to one of our neighboring counties to the east, and Escambia loses out Pooof...gone! If this project goes away-ST Engineering will pull out the $35 Million they have earmarked for this deal and spend it elsewhere....Poof, gone! And the various other sources of tax proceeds that would have been spent on this deal---you guessed it---Pooof, gone to another part of the state.

 Bottom line---if we kill this project, this pot of money will ultimately fund some other Florida City's infrastructure.  That would be a huge loss if that happened.  The intelligent play here if we are thinking long game is to push forward with this project for the long-term benefit of our area.


Anonymous said...

It would be short sighted and foolish to let this deal die. People need to quit living in the world of HUHA

The last sane person on Earth said...

Commissioner, first, my name is Tom Jardine. I’m not trying to conceal my identity, but I don’t immediately see how to change my pseudonym. And I DO like my pseudonym.

What is the Board’s objective on this ridiculous demand for the Board to pass an ordinance promoting the SHAM of a referendum regarding FS on the Beach?

The referendum was silly! The FS issue is extremely complexed. The voters don’t understand the situation on the Beach. Informed citizens such as you and I are at times confused on this issue! And Escambia’s voters were misinformed by the PNJ and Save Pensacola Beach. An opaque issue such as this should never have been placed on a referendum!

All we discovered is that citizens like the beach. If we held a referendum on whether we value clean air, it would pass overwhelmingly as well. But a sophisticated, informed voter would acknowledge that we also need industry and jobs. Clean air and industry are sometimes at odds. We need balance.

The BCC acquiesced to Save Pensacola Beach less than six months ago. SPB is continuing with their abusive tactics. Now the Board, in an attempt to halt SPB’s obstruction of county meetings, is seriously considering “caving “ to this obnoxious protest group AGAIN.

Who is leading Escambia County? Does the Commission answer to the beck and call of obnoxious protest groups? Do NOT submit to this group and reward their unruly behavior and shady tactics.

If the commissioners acquiesce AGAIN, every obnoxious protest group will recognize the our Escambia County Commission can be buffaloed, and the filibuster of Public Forum will be the rule.

Please demonstrate some leadership and backbone, sir. Buck up please!

The last sane person on Earth said...

I do apologize for posting “off topic”. But I am a supporter of yours, and I don’t see a vehicle on this site for general comments.

Unknown said...

Well said Tom.