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Weyerhaeuser-Cnty Score Again: $10.2 Mil More Funneled Into Old Inland Port, Total Now $13.3mil


The complete map of Weyerhaeuser's Mega Industrial Park is here.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  Columbia County and Weyerhaeuser score again from the $85mil Florida Legislature approved Governor Scott pet project economic development slush fund. After receiving $3.1mil at the beginning of the year for a rail spur through the forest and into the Weyerhaeuser owned site, the Governor announced on Tuesday that Columbia County was awarded $10.2mil for a waste water treatment plant at the former Plum Creek Inland Port, which turned into the Plum Creek Intermodal site and has been incarnated into the Weyerhaeuser North Florida Mega Industrial Park.

Background: Gov. Scott's $85mil pot of gold

On March 10, 2017, under the leadership of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, both Republicans and Democrats voted to eliminate the state's economic development agency, Enterprise Florida. It was a bipartisan show of support to end taxpayer subsidies for corporations.

Critics from both parties said subsides gave advantages to some companies over others and frequently went to the well-connected instead of the most deserving.

The bill eliminating Enterprise Florida passed 87-29.

GOP Representative Paul Renner said at the time, “The lion’s share of the job creators in this state will work hard their entire lives, pay taxes, play by the rules and never receive one dollar of taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

By June of 2017, as the Florida Legislature prepared for a special session a deal was worked out between Speaker Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and Governor Scott.

The Governor wielded his veto pen on the budget, cutting billions, and in return got his $85mil economic development slush fund.

On July 12, 2017, the Governor announced, "Enterprise Florida and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) are accepting economic development project proposals for the new $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. Economic development projects that enhance community infrastructure or develop workforce training programs are eligible to receive funding."

Weyerhaeuser

Weyerhaeuser is one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands, owning or controlling nearly 12.4 million acres of timberlands in the U.S. and managing additional 14.0 million acres of timberlands under long-term licenses in Canada. The company also manufactures wood products. Weyerhaeuser is a real estate investment trust.

In 2017, Weyerhaeuser had revenues of $7.2 billion. Its 3d quarter 2018 earnings were reported to be $255 million.

In 2017 Weyerhaeuser's President and CEO Doyle R. Simmons made $11,169,534 in total compensation.

Columbia County

In February 2018, a Columbia County delegation, which looked like it had members of the Blues Brothers on board, hustled to Jacksonville to get their photo taken with the Governor as he announced, again, they were the recipients of $3.1 million for the rail spur for the former Inland Port.


See: Florida Job Growth Grant Fund – Surplus? Next: Murphy May Ask for "the Sky"

During the Jacksonville February 7 announcement and photo-op Link Link Chairman Murphy met with the Gov. Mr. Murphy explained his meeting this way [as spoken]:

Mr. Murphy: "What he enticed us to do -- there's money left in this -- 30 somethin' million dollars I think the number was, left in this particular fund, so he encouraged us to immediately send some projects over there. Hopefully they run it through this budget cycle.

He elaborated us -- you know -- sounded to me like they weren't expectin' that kinda' money to be left over, so he encouraged us to -- and we sittin' there discussing it there with em' kinda come to the assumption that -- you know -- we got the rail to the property line -- Weyerhaeuser to my understanding is working on the road design plan, so do an estimated value on it and at least either expand utilities in there or the road or we'll ask for the sky and hopeful we'll get somethin'."

Regarding the latest millions ($10.2mil) all Columbia County and Lake City officials are thrilled at receiving the grant for the waste water treatment plant.

The County is expected to turn the plant over to Lake City to run, as the County does not really do utilities.

Epilogue

Columbia County's Economic Development Director Glen Hunter owns Lake City's Hunter Printing.

Hunter Printing has been in operation for 50 years.

Today, your reporter asked Mr. Hunter if he had ever been "subsidized by the state or the feds."

His answer was one word, "No."

Like the majority of business in America, Hunter Printing pays taxes, plays by the rules and never received one dollar of taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Of course, Hunter Printing is not doing $7 billion in business, nor does Mr. Hunter make $11mil from his printing business.

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