Tech company looks to Gainesville for expansion
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
Alachua County is vying to attract a mobile technology company interested in expanding its operations to Gainesville — a move that could bring to the community 260 new jobs paying almost $50,000 a year.
Based in Wellesley, Mass.
Over 150 employees
Annual revenues of about $20 million
Mobile strategy development for businesses
County's QTI pledge: $208,000 over four years
Mobiquity Inc., a Massachusetts-based company that provides services ranging from developing apps to advising companies on their mobile strategies, is considering the city as a possible location for a new expansion site.
The Alachua County Commission on Tuesday approved a Qualified Target Industry program request from Mobiquity to provide a tax rebate incentive for its relocation. The Gainesville City Commission also is expected to consider the request at its Jan. 17 meeting.
Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe said he supports the QTI proposal.
"This is another opportunity for the city of Gainesville to bring good quality jobs to our community, and I support moving forward with it," he said.
If approved, the county and city each would pay $208,000 in the form of tax rebates to Mobiquity over a period of four years, contingent upon the number of jobs the company creates. To qualify, the jobs must offer salaries above the county's median wage, which is approximately $34,446, said Edgar Campa-Palafox, the county's economic development coordinator.
The county and city each provide 10 percent of the QTI funding, while the state provides 80 percent, Campa-Palafox said. In total, the QTI incentive could offer Mobiquity a little more than $2 million.
Mobiquity has said it expects to create 260 Florida jobs with an average salary of $49,000. If it doesn't meet its goal but does create some jobs, it would receive a prorated amount of the QTI funds.
"That's why a lot of our elected officials like this program," Campa-Palafox said. "It's a performance-based incentive."
Mobiquity also is considering locations in Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Washington. The company formed about 18 months ago and has expanded rapidly since then, according to county documents on its QTI request. It has more than 150 employees.
"One of the things that is really impressive is the rate of growth they've been experiencing," Campa-Palafox said.
Key advantages Gainesville has for Mobiquity include the University of Florida's College of Engineering and the UF Innovation Hub, according to county documents. The company expects to attract UF graduates and encourage them to stay in Gainesville.
The community has been seeing more interest from companies as Innovation Hub builds momentum, Campa-Palafox said.
The county approved the QTI request for Mobiquity 4-1 at Tuesday's meeting, with Commissioner Mike Byerly in dissent.
Byerly said he thinks Mobiquity would be a good asset to the community but objects to the QTI program on principle because he doesn't think it is an appropriate role of government to provide individual tax breaks to companies, which have other competitors. He said it is like picking winners and losers.
Commissioner Susan Baird, however, said she likes the performance-based aspect of the QTI program. Commissioner Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson said he doesn't support all QTI requests but said Mobiquity is clearly the kind of company commissioners want in Gainesville.
"So to me, this is a really good example of why QTI makes sense when we're trying to get somebody that will be such a benefit to the community," he said.
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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