Pensacola, Florida
Sunday October 21st 2018

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Outtakes—Follow the Process

By Rick Outzen

In January, Incoa Performance Minerals officials approached the Port of Pensacola about the possibility of setting up a calcium carbonate processing facility. They were given a tour of the port. FloridaWest was asked to work with them.

The mayor’s office considered the company a viable tenant for the Port and specifically excluded the “mineral processing facility” in its marketing agreement with NAI Halford that was dated Feb. 2.

FloridaWest negotiated for the city leases for Port Warehouse #9 and #10 and approximately 6.5 acres of adjacent undeveloped land. Incoa would invest initially $25 million at the Port and another $75 million when the second and third manufacturing lines were completed. The total annual revenue for the Port would be over $1 million, including rent, dockage, wharfage and other fees. When built out, the manufacturing facility will have an annual payroll of over $5 million and 77 full-time jobs. The average salary would be $65,000.

The proposal was delivered to the City. Council President Gerald Wingate placed it on the agenda, and the council approved that the mayor negotiate with Incoa and present an agreement to the council for final approval.

Incoa followed the process it was told to follow. FloridaWest staff did what city officials asked the economic development authority to do.

There had been no restrictions placed on the Port that stated only high-tech companies or tenants that don’t use the railroad should be considered. The public may want to create such limitations on future use of the Port. They may want to completely shut down the city enterprise. However, Incoa followed the process it was given.

If Mayor Hayward wanted to halt any Port lease discussion until after the Moffatt & Nichol port study was completed, he should have announced it to the public. The City shouldn’t have signed a marketing agreement with NAI Halford. FloridaWest should have been told not to negotiate with Incoa. However, he made no such announcement.

The process of leasing the Port hasn’t been completed. What happens next is Mayor Hayward’s move. Legitimate questions have been asked about the operation. The mayor should seek the answers. Some are concerned about performance and “clawback” clauses in the contract. The mayor can include them in the agreement. Incoa has asked for an agreement to be worked out quickly, but the mayor is under no obligation to comply. The ball is in the strong mayor’s court.

I think we should complete the process. Let the mayor do his due diligence and see what he brings back to the council. Then we can all weigh in before the council vote.