Medical manufacturer Halkey-Roberts Corp. is asking for a property tax break from Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg on a potential expansion at its north St. Pete plant.
Halkey-Roberts is considering building a 116,000-square-foot facility at its site at 2700 Halkey-Roberts Place N., off of 28th Street North. It plans to invest $1 million in equipment and $23 million in construction. The company estimated it would create at least 10 new jobs with annual pay scales of at least 75 percent of the average annual wage for Pinellas County.
Halkey-Roberts, which has been in Pinellas County for more than 30 years and manufactures valves for medical equipment, is facing surging demand for equipment used in ventilators, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Suzanne Christman, business development division director for Pinellas County Economic Development, told commissioners.
Pinellas County Commissioners voted six-to-one Tuesday to approve a resolution in support of a potential property tax exemption for the project. But it’s far from a done deal, Christman said. Halkey-Roberts has operations in Texas and Alabama and just bought 30 acres of land next to their Alabama facility.
“We do have competition on this project and the competition is real,” Christman said.
Some commissioners questioned whether the company might add more than 10 jobs. Christman said that was a conservative number.
“We been talking to many of our manufacturers over the last several days. The companies are challenged right now in being able to forecast not only their labor needs, but also their production, their raw materials with some supply chain issues they are facing, so they want to keep that conservative number now. They do anticipate it will be more jobs,” she said.
The vote Tuesday was just the first step in the process. If the company moves forward with the Pinellas County site, it would submit an application for a tax break. That application would include more details on the projected fiscal impact for the county, Christman said. Pinellas commissioners also would have to approve an agreement between the company and the county.
The St. Petersburg City Council approved a resolution in support of an economic development ad valorem tax exemption for Halkey-Roberts on March 18.
The city caps the tax abatement for a single project at $100,000 per year and the exemption term for this particular project would be limited to five years, a memo to county commissioners said. The county historically has matched the incentive amount provided by the city, and if that holds true for this project, the total tax abatement amount would be $500,000 spread out over the first five years the building is in service, the memo said.
Halkey-Roberts pays $638,439 in direct property taxes annually for its current facility and that would continue, the memo said.