By DOTTY NIST
A company is interested in establishing a beer brewing operation in Walton County, and county commissioners have approved a resolution of support.
The approval took place at the Aug. 23 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs at the request of Scarlett Phaneuf.
Phaneuf, managing director for the Walton County Economic Development Alliance, told the commissioners that the small company is proposing to expand by constructing and operating a beer brewery, a phase of the company’s operations currently contracted out to another business. The proposal is being identified as “Project Beer.” The company is not being identified at this time.
The company plans on buying property and building a 17,000-foot production facility, Phaneuf explained. Fifty new full-time employees would be hired over a three-year period to work in the facility at an average annual wage of $50,000, she noted.
Phaneuf said that, along with south Walton County and Freeport, the company is considering other areas in which to locate the facility, including Pensacola, Mobile, and Montgomery.
There was no cost to the county associated with the resolution approved by the commissioners. Its purpose was to support Project Beer’s application to the state’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program, through which the company could receive a tax refund of $280,000 if its application is approved, according to Phaneuf.
The program provides state tax refunds to qualifying businesses that relocate to Florida or that originate or expand in the state. Its purpose is to encourage an increase in higher-wage jobs in Florida.
Phaneuf also provided an update on Project eAdGear NWFL, a previous proposal receiving a similar resolution of support from the commissioners in February. The proposal involved a customer care center affiliated with an online advertising company. Phaneuf said that, unfortunately, due to “internal measures” the company had decided not to move forward with locating the customer care center in Santa Rosa Beach as anticipated.