County considers $4 million incentive to lure financial company
By Suzy Valentine
A veiled financial entity could bring 88 jobs to western Miami-Dade County and invest $100 million if the county commission approves more than $4 million in incentives today (9/8).
The company - targeted but unidentified by the Beacon Council, the county economic development group - is weighing one location here and an alternative in California for a global processing center that it says would bring 50 direct and 38 indirect jobs. It plans to create those posts - with an average salary of $65,828 and $13,000 in benefits - within its first three years here.
The commission is to decide on two incentives. The first proposes six years of tax incentives of $8,333.30 from 2007 to 2012. The second would provide yearly inducements of $385,061.20 from 2007 through 2016.
The Beacon Council's Jaap Donath, vice president of research and strategic planning, said the council is fulfilling its mission for financial services, one of its targeted industries.
Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz represents the targeted area, encompassing parts of the county from Southwest Eighth to Northwest 202nd streets. That area includes Doral, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Virginia Gardens and some unincorporated areas.
"It's outside the traditional banking area," said Seno Bril, president of the Florida International Bankers Association and general manager of PNB Paribas, "but a regional back office or information technology operation doesn't need to be in Aventura or Brickell nor on Biscayne Boulevard."
The move, said Mr. Bril, would consolidate the region's financial reputation.
"The larger the banking sector in South Florida, the better," he said. "It's more jobs, more competition and more choice for consumers."
One of Mr. Bril's predecessors isn't so sure about the incentives.
"It raises the question of whether public sector dollars should be spent on a private sector initiative," said Dennis Nason of Coral Gables-based executive search business Nason & Nason. "There are some that would argue it brings esprit de corps and jobs."
Mr. Nason said funds from the county don't make for a level playing field.
"Do you give money to Citibank and not to the Bank of America?" he asked. "It could make the market less rather than more competitive."
But the head of a statewide banking association welcomed the possibility.
"It solidifies Miami as a financial services headquarters," said Alex Sanchez, president of the Florida Bankers Association. "People take notice and banks take notice. It brings jobs with a higher wage and more spending power for houses, goods and services."
The unnamed organization plans to acquire 200,000 square feet of office space that Mr. Nason said equates to "three floors in a newer building."
"It's the Beacon Council's mission to bring these players to the county," said Barry Johnson, executive vice president of marketing and communications at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. "New banking jobs are enriching the community."