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Palm Bay OKs incentives for battery firm’s 1,000 jobs

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Palm Bay OKs incentives for battery firm’s 1,000 jobs

Palm Bay will provide city property tax breaks that could total nearly $12 million, spread over eight years, to a lithium battery manufacturer — if the company meets its goal of adding 1,000 jobs and making a $270 million capital investment.

The Palm Bay City Council’s unanimous vote Thursday follows similar action by the Brevard County Commission, which last month approved $8.95 million in county property tax breaks for the company, Oakridge Global Energy Solutions Corp., also spread over eight years. That approval was 4-1, with Commissioner Trudie Infantini voting no.

Oakridge’s plan is to modify and improve a manufacturing facility at 2755 Kirby Circle N.E. in Palm Bay that formerly was used by MC Assembly, which last year moved to North Drive in Melbourne.

Oakridge proposes adding the 1,000 jobs by the end of 2018, with the average wage of the jobs at $50,075 a year. In addition to management positions, the jobs include engineers, scientists, machine operators and technicians.

Its Palm Bay tax breaks could total $11.93 million.

Battery-maker approved for nearly $9 million in Brevard incentives

The company would not get the Brevard County or Palm Bay tax breaks if they do not meet their job creation and capital investment goals.

Oakridge would pay about a total of $15.28 million in new taxes to the county and other local entities during the eight years it would get the tax breaks.

Palm Bay Mayor William Capote said he is excited about the prospects for the Oakridge project.

“A thousand jobs at an average of $50,000 is a lot, and the investment they’re making in the community to retrofit their building is huge,” Capote said during the Palm Bay City Council discussion of the tax break proposal.

Oakridge may create 1,000 jobs in Palm Bay

Oakridge, which now has operations in Melbourne, plans to make batteries for drones, radio-controlled vehicles, golf carts, homeenergy storage units and electric vehicles.

Oakridge, with 25 employees, currently has a 50,500-square-foot manufacturing plant at 3991 Sarno Road in Melbourne and a nearby 12,000-square-foot engineering facility.

It proposes expanding into a 230,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at 2755 Kirby Circle, as well as a 68,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and research-and-development center at 3520 Dixie Highway, both in Palm Bay.

The company was founded in 1986, and started its Florida operations in 2012.

Contact Berman at 321-242-3649 and dberman@floridatoday.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByDaveBerman and on Facebook at facebook.com/dave.berman.54