Commissioners award $202K in conditional grants
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Two more local jobs grants were awarded to businesses last week by county officials in an attempt to aid economic development in the county.
The two companies benefitting from the $202,000 award are Bridgevine, an existing local web-based firm, and an unnamed new aquaculture company that plans to produce shrimp in Fellsmere.
The receipt of the grant funding is contingent on each company meeting employment benchmarks, county staff said.
Bridgevine is proposing to add 25 new jobs and could receive up to $129,000 over a three year period.
The shrimp farm business plan proposes 52 new jobs, 23 of which qualify for a jobs grant of $73,000.
Helene Caseltine, economic development director for the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, said each time she brings forward an applicant for the jobs grant, it is exciting, whether for an existing company or a new one.
"The city of Fellsmere has been working with the shrimp farm for more than one year," said Jason Nunemaker, city manager.
City staff under the guidance of the city manager and the Fellsmere City Council have been applying for grants to enhance the infrastructure of the city to help the facility prosper.
"Road improvements and an extension of natural gas are just two ways that Fellsmere is showing the company a big welcome," Mr. Nunemaker said.
Each area of the county has something different to offer businesses, and Fellsmere has a large agriculture base to capitalize on, city leaders believe.
"We are trying to find our niche in economic development," Mr. Nunemaker said.
"The shrimp farm is an outgrowth of the agriculture business Fellsmere is familiar with, and the promise of jobs with varying wages and opportunities for residents to start at the bottom and even work their way up is a positive direction the city wants to encourage," he said.
Mr. Nunemaker said Fellsmere is always on the lookout for ways to bring more jobs and economic growth to the community.
"There is definitely a diversity of things happening around here," Mr. Nunemaker said.
For more information about economic development and jobs grants in Indian River County, visit www.ircgov.com/economy/index.htm or www.indianriverchamber.com/index.cfm?Method=EconomicDevelopment.Home.