Commissioner Moran applauds career development at Codeware in Sarasota
On many occasions since he joined the board in November 2016, Sarasota County Commissioner Michael Moran has voiced adamant opposition to economic incentives for businesses. His goal, he has affirmed, is job creation, but the majority of the applications he has seen, he has stressed, have not met that criterion.
On May 23, however, Moran made the motion to approve the application of a Sarasota company seeking to be exempt from paying 100% of its tangible property taxes for 10 years. The company, Codeware, operates out of a location at 5224 Station Way in Sarasota, its application says. It plans to construct an approximately 26,000-square-foot building on the site where its corporate headquarters is located — 6530 Sawyer Loop Road in Sarasota — and hire 10 new full-time employees between 2019 and 2021, according to documentation provided to the commissioners in advance of the May 23 meeting.
“The company is investing $8.1 million in the expansion of their facility,” Jeff Maultsby, director of the county’s Office of Business and Economic Development, told the board during a public hearing on May 23.
The application Codeware submitted says the goal of the expansion is to expand business revenue and market share, with the additional space to be used for the hiring and training of employees. It adds that another facet of the proposal is to “Build on corporate camaraderie and efficiencies by having all the Sarasota employees in one building.”
The average starting salary of the new full-time Codeware employees, Maultsby pointed out, will be $90,000 per year, which exceeds 115% of the average wage for the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Codeware will need to buy and install new equipment with an estimated value of $45,000, the backup agenda document also notes.
The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office certified that the amount of revenue that would be lost to the county during the current fiscal year, if the tax exemption were granted, would be $26,168.26, based on the county millage rate, another document says.
Moran told his colleagues that he had met with Codeware representatives, including owner Les Bildy. “Boy, I gotta tell you: This is exactly what this community is looking for, if you ask me. … These are careers that they’re developing. … These are incredibly high-paying careers.”
Codeware, Moran continued, “will literally bring people from around the country to work at this organization … I appreciate the family’s commitment and investment in the community.”
Vice Chair Charles Hines — who was presiding in the absence of Chair Nancy Detert — asked whether anyone with the company wished to address the board. On one occasion in the past year, Hines pointed out, a representative of a firm seeking a tax break was present and offered remarks to the commission. “It made all the difference in the world,” he added, in terms of gaining the board’s support.
Bildy and his daughter, Nicole Bildy, then stepped up to the podium, where Maultsby introduced them.
Les Bildy explained that Codeware has 42 employees, divided between Sarasota and Austin, Texas. Twenty-six of the company’s employees live in Sarasota County, according to the firm’s application for the property tax exemption.
He moved his family to Sarasota from Canada in 1996, he noted. “We’re committed to this community.”
Codeware’s employees are all mechanical engineers andcomputer programmers, he continued. The company’s software implements a safety code for pressurized equipment, he added. “We have uses for this all over the world. … It’s a very, very specific niche.”
Referring to the expansion, Bildy told the commissioners, “I have a lot of skin in this particular project and this game.”
The company’s application — dated April 10 — said no other firm provides a similar product or services in the area. The application further noted $8.4 million in current sales within the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The application also pointed out that Codeware could expand at its Texas location, but management prefers to keep its headquarters in Sarasota.
After Les Bildy concluded his remarks, Nicole Bildy introduced herself as the company’s managing director. “We have been so impressed with the quality of graduates from Florida schools,” she told the commissioners. It is Codeware’s priority to hire them, she added. “We’re happy to have these individuals retained here in Sarasota.”
At Codeware, she continued, “We do a lot of training. … We have a strong mentorship program …”
The firm’s application notes that Nicole Bildy is a recipient of the Google Enterprise Superstar Award.
Hines extended his appreciation to Les and Nicole Bildy for their comments. “That additional information’s so helpful here.”
Then Moran joked, “We look very [much] forward to your bringing all your employees from Texas here.”
After Moran made the motion to approve the tangible assets tax exemption for 10 years at the 100% level, Commissioner Alan Maio seconded it, and it passed unanimously.