Who is Project Continental? All Signs Point to Palm Coast Data

Jim Landon’s press conference did not disclose the name of the company referred to as Project Continental, but the only company that fits the mold is Palm Coast Data.

 Palm Coast, Florida – September 11, 2008 – Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon briefed the press today on Project Continental, the phantom company that might bring 700 new jobs to our area. He spoke of the number of jobs, the economic impact, and incentives offered, but he did not reveal the name of the company, claiming a continuing non-disclosure agreement. Palm Coast is not a big city. Put the pieces together and do a little homework and Project Continental has to be the parent company of Palm Coast Data.
Here is what Landon revealed:
A site selection consultant was brought to the city by Tom Cooley (Enterprise Flagler) requesting a high level of confidentiality. The consultant represented company which had recently purchased a rapidly growing local firm with approximately 1,000 employees. The company planned to consolidate its multi-state operation, either in Palm Coast or in another state where they already had operations employing about 700 employees. Their needs were for immediate interim space and more space required soon. The alternate site had both. Palm Coast had no space available in the short term.
Why do I think it’s Palm Coast Data?
  • How many private companies in Palm Coast have about 1,000 employees? According to the Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 directory, Palm Coast Data is the area’s largest private sector employer with 867 (and growing). They also have 50 workers in a call center in Deland.
  •  Palm Coast Data was purchased recently; by AMREP Corp. The deal closed in January ’07. This story was reported at that time exclusively by GoToby.com. (story)  
  • AMREP also owns Louisville, Colorado-based Kable Fullfillment Services. Kable has 500-600 workers providing the fulfillment services similar to those performed by Palm Coast Data.
  • In SEC filings, AMREP has stated that it is seeking to integrate aspects of the two companies.
  • The president and COO of fulfillment operations for both companies, John Meneough, lives in the Palm Coast area. John was president of Palm Coast Data when it was acquired by AMREP.
  • Kable also has an operations and data center in Morris, Ill.
  • Palm Coast Data owns three parcels adjacent to its present facilities providing room for new construction.
  • The Volusia/Flagler Business Report by Clayton Park first surfaced AMREP as Continental in its August 18th issue. (click for story) (allow time to load)
The incentive package the city put on the table is:
  • To satisfy the immediate need for space, the city will vacate the present city hall and lease it to Continental for 3yrs at $240 thousand per year with an option to buy for $3 million.
  • The city will mitigate any wetland issues surrounding new construction and expedite permitting.
  • A tax abatement of 100% for the first 5 years and 50% for the second five years on all new construction. Planned new construction will be approximately 200,000 square feet.
  • A personal property tax abatement.
  • Flagler County and the State of Florida are also working on incentives.
A Fishkind & Associates study commissioned by the city indicates what the city can expect to gain with Project Continental:
  • 1,700 direct jobs (1,000 already here, plus 700 new) and 793 indirect jobs
  • $174.6 million of annual economic activity
  • $20 million (minimum) in capital investment
  • 362 construction and associated jobs with $29.4 million economic activity
The report also tells the city what is at risk if the project is lost:
  • 1,000 primary jobs
  • 466 indirect jobs
  • $102.7 million of annual local economic activity
  • 15 – 20% unemployment in Flagler County
  • A downturn in every aspect of our local economy, including housing, retail sales and services
"It’s not a done deal yet," stressed Landon. The city council must approve the incentive package. It will be voted at next Tuesday’s council meeting. There is no guarantee that Continental will say yes to the package, but Landon was very confident that if the package is approved, as outlined, the company will consolidate here.
We should commend Tom Cooley and Jim Landon for a job well done. We should also keep a tight hold on our prayer beads.
6 replies
  1. John Coffey
    John Coffey says:

    Pproject Continental

    Palm Coast Data is not known for high paying jobs. Most people working there cannot support a family on the salaries they pay. From what I see, most are working spouses who work less than 40 hours per week. There have been many local stories of homebased workers who don’t make minimum wage, consequently a very high turnover rate. I’d love to see more employment, with good salaries but hope the city doesn’t make a mistake by approving something that doesn’t really benefit the local work force.

    My guess is that the City will approve it because it "ALLOWS" them to build a new city hall in Town Center even though the majority of voters are not in favor of it. Sorry we had to do it bacuse we had to give them our City hall so that they would bring in more minimum wage jobs to get Flagler unemployment back inline with the rest of the State. Now if our people can work 35 hours here and 20 hours at Wal-Mart and 20 hours at Home Depot they will be able to pay for the increases in water bills, property taxes and all of the other stupid and worthless projects the city can think up.

  2. George Meegan
    George Meegan says:

    Tax giveaway

    Better keep it quiet as the tax payers of Palm Coast have been bypassed again if these no tax deals are allowed. The no tax in the state for income tax should be enough for them, as the Colorado and Ilinois are about 8%. The other big problem is the jobs don’t pay much more tha minimum wage. That will not attract home buyers, only renter. These "confidential" deals are just closed door meetings that violate the open meetings laws of the state. What a bunch of sneaky officials we have running this city. I know the county won’t buy this deal as they have had it with the underhanded actions of the City of Palm Coast "boys". Of course the manager is just doing what he’s told to do and that’s one more reason to change the City to a strong Elected Mayor that dosen’t hid behind a $160,000 plus "Manager".

  3. Lou Mecseri
    Lou Mecseri says:

    What is the bottom line?

    I am confused, are 700 jobs good for the citizens of Palm Coast or not? The answer to the question is not obvious.

    Currently, we are experiencing traffic problems. Are 700 additional people going to the same general area likely to create traffic jams that resemble what already occurs in the Baltimore/Washington corridor?

    Accountability and transparency are the basic foundation of a democratic government. Therefore, before the City Council even considers this "package" a cost benefit analysis must be performed and reviewed by the interested public. How many new students will 700 new jobs bring into the school system? 2.1X700 or 1470 new students will require 58 additional teachers (25 students to a class)? How many more supervisors and administrators will be needed for the taxpayers to support?

    For the inquiring minds there are lots of questions. Is someone with knowledge going to be available to supply the answers? How about you, Toby?

    After reading the answers I will make up my mind to support or oppose the 700 jobs.

    Lou Mecseri

  4. JR
    JR says:

    No Brainer

    If this happens, it may be one of the most wonderful pieces of news Flagler County has had in a very long time.
    There is no downside. It will put people to work who already live here and are suffering in our economy. All my family, friends and acquaintances are watching with hopeful hearts.

  5. Lee
    Lee says:

    Mitigate wetland issues

    Mitigate wetland issues? Expedite the permit process? Great! Maybe you can dump some toxic waste in the ocean too!

    Where will the City Hall employees go when you lease out that building? What will it cost to lease a new space? What about changes to stationary/letterhead, business cards, not to mention the cost of the physical moves. Ever move a computer network? Not cheap, not simple. What is the cost for that?

  6. Toby
    Toby says:

    I hear you but,….

    We can’t always have what we want. Among our options at this time, any company that brings jobs rather than taking jobs away is a good thing. Think about what the consequences might be if Palm Coast Data chooses to pull out rather than expand. The consequences are dire. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best one we have at the moment. The momentum that this will create will give us options in the future – options that will be closed to us if Palm Coast Data leaves.
    We can’t always have what we want. Among our options at this time, any company that brings jobs rather than taking jobs away is a good thing. Think about what the consequences might be if Palm Coast Data chooses to pull out rather than expand here. The consequences are dire. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best one we have at the moment. The momentum that this will create will give us options in the future – options that will be closed to us if Palm Coast Data leaves. We would all like to have a clean, high paying bio-tech or software company come to town, but we are not competitive with other cities who offer greater incentives. Tax dollars spent to make this happen will save tax dollars in the future. I do not believe you comprehend or are willing to pay the increased property taxes that would result in the loss of 1,000 Flagler County jobs – even low paying jobs.

    Palm Coast can no more be what it was 15 years ago than can I walk on my hands as I once did as a young gymnast. Among our limited options, this is a good one. I am strongly in favor of this project, with its incentives, moving forward.

    I expect to see some who disagree speak at next Tuesday’s city council meeting. I hope there are many who will attend in support.

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