WELCOME TO LEE COUNTY FORTUNE 500 COMPANY "X"
(May 3, 2013)
Last week Lee County Commissioners announced that they were in negotiations with a "Fortune 500 Company" to move their facilities from New Jersey to Ft. Myers. Why this was not mentioned or covered by the media long before - who knows?
"500 X" purports to bring 700 jobs to Lee and to construct a large building to house their staff. Of course that move would be accomplished if Lee County and Florida taxpayers forked over $ millions to grease their plans, but certainly the price tag is very reasonable (this time) for the benefits we would receive.
Such a plan, however, should remind us of the VR Labs fiasco. Lee commissioners, allegedly with advice from the usual suspects - County Staff; the Horizon Council, Jim Moore, Bernie Madoff, all of whom saw the handout favorable to VR Labs as a good thing for Lee County. That handout, of course, was voted upon in favor of VR Labs, at the expense of other companies also seeking funding from the commissioners.
And if one (like me) were to be suspicious about the VR gift, simply because VR hired noted lawyer and connected politician, Jeffe Kottcamp , to grease the process, well then one might just be called cynical ( http://www.sawyer2012.com/1_SOLYNDRA.html )
So ever the cynic, I dashed off the (cynical?) letter over on your left to the county commissioners. Whenever a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is (sayeth I). But Commissioners and the ever-reliable News-Press have assured us that THIS TIME we will not be giving out any money UNTIL certain criteria have been met - most especially that the Jersey Boys have already started paying salaries to 300 or so in Lee County.
But, not unexpectedly, we all want this to succeed. But should we not be cautious?
1. When I inquired about the terms of the contract, county officials told me there was no written contract.
Hmmm. News reports mentioned that we hired a new lawyer just for this project. Are we to believe that ANY lawyer would advise not setting the terms down in writing?
2. We have been assured that while no one knows the name of that company, confidentiality is of the essence.
I suppose. But if the Jersey Company is, say, Trump Casino enterprises, might we want to know why they want to come here? (Of course, I'd be on board)
3. If a company moves it's operations to a distant place, they are well aware that many of their key employees will refuse to move with it.
Ask Blockbuster Video. And look what happened to them.
4. If the company is any way in need of high-tech expertise for their operations, where in the world will the get qualified employees in Lee County?
Build it and they will come? C'mon. New Jersey is across the river from New York City and all the fun it offers. Lee County is quiet and has . . . . . . golf. My former home town, Kalamazoo once sported Shakespeare Rod and Reel; Gibson Guitar; Checker Motors; Sawyers Gourmet Pancake House, and Upjohn. It now has . . . . . . . Upjohn.
Here's my concern. Once again, politicians have thrown caution to the wind, in hopes of landing new jobs. "What could go wrong? " commissioners ask. "We covered all the bases this time." Certainly if this works out and those jobs will be created, we all shall benefit. And who wants to listen to some old cynic rain on our parade?
This is reality: The State of Florida and Lee County Taxpayers have committed millions to bring "X" to Lee. We got nothing in writing. Company "X" has no legal obligation to relocate here. But now they have a firm commitment from us, and you can bet they will waive that commitment under the collective noses of New Jersey's elected officials to try to extort.
Do you think Chris Christie will let a Fortune 500 Company go without a fight?
If I am wrong - Lee County wins. If I am right (yet again), maybe it's time our politicians got their heads out of their asses.
PS: My guess is Avis.