In the second party-line vote in as many days, the Sanford City Council on Tuesday evening approved an incentive package to an unnamed company that, if accepted, would bring 196 new jobs and $126 million in tax base investment to the city.
Republican Charles Taylor cast the council’s lone dissenting vote, while four Democrats – Byron Buckels, Sam Gaskins, Jimmy Haire, and J.D. Williams voted in favor. Council members Chas Post and Rebecca Wyhof Salmon were absent. Under the deal, the city would offer $2.42 million in tax rebates to the unnamed company, which is reported to be in the life sciences industry, over a seven year period in exchange for the job creation and tax base investment.
Like at the county’s meeting, there was actually little discussion of the project itself before the vote. Afterwards, though, CEO Michael Smith of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance said predictions of the life science industry potentially “clustering” in Lee County could be coming to fruition if the company accepts the deal.
“Here, we’re potentially the gene therapy capital of the world with what’s happening at Pfizer, and that certainly makes other companies that have similiar technologies want to be close by,” he said. “If we’re able to get this one, and you’re coming to Sanford from the U.S. 1 freeway south, and you pass Pfizer and then you see this opportunity as well, sitting on the freeway, it says we are extremely open for business as it relates to life science companies for everybody around the world.”
If the company chooses to locate in Lee County, it would be the third consecutive jobs announcement since mid 2019, when Bharat Forge agreed in September to bring 460 jobs and $170 million in tax base investment to Lee County. Pfizer’s announcement, which did not require any additional tax incentive from state or local government beyond one granted in 2017, came a month earlier.