A Fort Walton Beach craft brewery that has requested to remain unnamed will get nearly $50,000 in county and city taxpayer-funded incentives for its local expansion.
County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to award an economic development ad valorem tax exemption, or EDATE, of more than $18,000 as part of the board’s regularly scheduled commissioners meeting. The City of Fort Walton Beach voted late last year to approve the city’s share of the tax incentive package, bringing the total exemption to more than $50,000.
The incentives came from a deal reached last year between a company identified as “Project Veterans Pride” by Okaloosa County and the City of Fort Walton Beach over an expansion of the company. The brewery owners agreed to invest more than $1.6 million in construction and equipment for a new facility at 656 Lovejoy Rd NW in the Fort Walton Beach Technology and Commerce Park. They also agreed to hire 11 people at an average wage of $43,000 a year. After 10 years, the EDATE would expire, and the company would begin paying ad valorem taxes.
Since beginning operations in 2011, the owners of the brewery, who are retiring Air Force Pilots, doubled its footprint with recent expansions. With the proposed expansion, the company hopes to begin regional distribution of its craft beer throughout the southeast. The Pulse was unable to reach the company for comment before the vote on the EDATE.
According to the tax exemption application, without the promise of the economic incentives, they may not have been able to complete the project. Business incentives and EDATEs in Florida remain to be controversial programs, though most opposition centers on bigger amounts for companies whose headquarters and developments are not in the local area.
Officials say the investment will create an additional 11 induced jobs, meaning jobs created because of the general increase in spending by the brewery and brewery employees.
“I want to compliment you on your work with this. It’s a great incentive,” said Okaloosa commissioner Carolyn Ketchel, who made the motion to approve the tax exemption Tuesday morning. “It keeps businesses here and grows business here.”
Location of the proposed distribution facility: