Zephyrhills helps buoy boat manufacturer
ZEPHYRHILLS - The Zephyrhills City Council voted unanimously to provide a $25,000 grant to boat manufacturer All Craft Marine. The company, based at 40047 County Road East in Zephyrhills, will receive $15,000 up front and $5,000 per year for the next two fiscal years. The funds will help cover electrical wiring improvements in the building the company rents. All Craft Marine chairman John Lucius said the company initially built small fishing boats, but to survive the economic downturn that began in 2007, it switched to manufacturing larger boats. The company bought the rights for the larger, 22- to 32-foot Century Boats from Yamaha in 2011. Before coming to Zephyrhills in February, the company was located at the Dade City Business Center in Dade City. The facility was too small for building the larger boats."To build large boats, we need a larger facility," Lucius said. Fred Brown, the company's chief financial officer, said that the company is renting space from Coastal Trucking and transitioning to take over the whole building. The company spent about $68,000 to replace the wiring. Zephyrhills City Manager Jim Drumm said that the incentive was tailored for the company's needs. "We thought it was a really good investment," he said. "The incentive packages we put together are really unique to the businesses. We base the amount on the type of improvements they make and the number of jobs that they will bring into the city. The reality is that when you have a quality company [interested in coming] to town you want to give them an incentive to come here." Drumm added, "If they're successful, they become good taxpayers." Lucius said he thinks the business will employ 30 to 40 people within the next 18 months. "We're pleased with what we see in the workforce," he said. "It could grow past that quite easily," Brown said. Drumm told the council that if the company went out of business, the city would not be obligated to make the additional $5,000 payments. Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson asked if there was any way to recoup the city's investments if the business should not be successful. Drumm said that the city would still have a building with an improved infrastructure ready for another business if such a situation occurred. The property itself was annexed into the city about six months ago, Drumm said. Council president Kent Compton said that he thinks the relationship is mutually beneficial. "We're very excited to have you in the neighborhood," Compton said. "Welcome to the family." Councilman Lance Smith agreed: "Thank you for coming to the community." "As far as we're concerned, it's our home," Lucius said.