Business | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Company: Tax Promise Cemented Decision to Move to Fla.

By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida
By: Michael Peltier, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, Feb. 10, 2011 --

The promise of corporate income tax cuts tipped the scales and cemented a hydrogen fuel cell company’s decision to put its headquarters in Florida, the firm’s chief financial officer told reporters Thursday.

Despite higher initial incentives offered by Massachusetts and Illinois, Dean Minardi, CFO of Bing Energy, said the company reached a final decision in December to locate its headquarters and production facilities at Innovation Park in Tallahassee, in part because of new Gov. Rick Scott’s promise of lower taxes.

Bing officials said back in October, before the election, that they were interested in what kind of package local and state officials might be able to put together for a Tallahassee headquarters.

But Minardi said the company, which had been in negotiations with local economic development officials for the past several months, was ultimately swayed in no small measure by Scott’s promise to phase out corporate income taxes over the next several years. The long-term advantages outweighed other state offers that promised cash up front but higher taxes down the road.

“It’s not about how much money we can get now, it’s how fast can we grow,” Minardi said at an event announcing the deal held at the Florida State University High Performance Materials Institute that included an appearance by Scott. “If you can cut the income tax, we can grow faster.”

The company will receive $1.9 million in tax refunds over the next seven years as part of the state Qualified Target Industry program if employment guidelines are met. The company plans to employ 250 workers within the next few years in the design and manufacture of lightweight hydrogen fuel cells that can be used in automobiles, the defense industry and power generation.

Minardi said Thursday that Massachusetts offered $10 million up front but the state’s tax structure was more prohibitive. Meanwhile, Minardi said Illinois lawmakers recently raised corporate rates.

Scott came into office promising to lower corporate income taxes, and eventually eliminate them. He was only inaugurated last month and hasn’t been through his first legislative session yet though, and while he has proposed a corporate income tax cut in his first budget, lawmakers haven’t yet agreed. The state faces a $3.6 billion deficit.

Florida State University played a part in the company’s decision as well. Bing works in collaboration with university researchers, to design and manufacture fuel cells. The company’s major customers right now are in China.

Scott said he would continue his mission of bringing jobs to Florida, a mantra he has maintained throughout his self-funded campaign and first month in office.

“My commitment is I’m going to make sure we have many, many (similar announcements) around the state and in Tallahassee,” Scott said as he welcomed the group.


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