Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Auto Firm Had Eye on Area Last Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Auto Firm Had Eye on Area Last Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

We continue to track the city's attempts to recruit a $1 billion, 3,000-job DaimlerChrysler van-making plant to Cecil Commerce Center. Here are a few more notes from the past several days:

-- The involvement by Gov. Jeb Bush is considered pivotal, not only because he leads the state but because he has a brother like no other governor can claim: President George W. Bush. It's unclear just how that relationship would sway the competition, but recruiters are quick to capitalize on the connection.

-- The company looked at Jacksonville a year ago for the plant and then backed off until returning 60 days or so ago. It has been looking here and elsewhere as "Project Bluebell."

-- We're told that the four site finalists were Jacksonville, Charleston, Savannah and an area in Alabama. Although it appeared last week that Alabama had been cut, we've also heard it either has been in play or could be back in play.

-- Workforce training will be a significant issue in Jacksonville. While workers are available, training them will be key.

-- Some of those in the know say that Jacksonville's chances to land the plant are 50-50. The belief is that Georgia and South Carolina will be able to offer significant incentives packages that Florida might find tough to beat. Locals intend to emphasize the quality of life, which the other cities most likely will accentuate as well.

-- DaimlerChrysler is expected to make a decision this summer. We hear that negotiators want to work the deal quietly within their ranks, like they have been doing over the past several months.

NORTHPOINT: North Jacksonville is on point for expansion.

Stone Mountain Industrial Park Inc. recently bought 220 acres from M&M Dairy Inc. in North Jacksonville and intends to start construction on the proposed NorthPoint project this year. …

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