Riviera Beach-based food distributor Cheney Brothers Inc. has announced plans to begin construction in 2012-13 on a 250,000-square-feet distribution center in Charlotte County. The project represents a nearly a $30-million capital investment and will bring 380 jobs to Punta Gorda, with wages averaging $36,000 annually, a 17.6 percent increase above the county’s average, plus benefits.
“Cheney Brothers’ growth sets the stage for positive economic effects this new distribution center will create,” said Governor Rick Scott. “This project is a business gain for Florida, as well as Charlotte County.”
Support from the state included an Economic Development Transportation Fund (Road Fund) grant, which is awarded to a local government on behalf of a business for public transportation improvements. For Cheney Brothers, the grant will be used to reduce transportation impediments that will enable safe access to the distribution center. The facility will be located in a designated brownfield area, qualifying Cheney Brothers for a Florida Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus tax refund. This incentive is performance-based, requiring the company to fulfill staffing and other contractual objectives before receiving tax rebates.
The project has received ample local support as well including a 10-year ad valorem tax exemption, an economic development incentive that was approved by Charlotte County voters in 2010.
“This is exactly what the doctor ordered for Charlotte County,” said Christopher Constance, chairman of the Charlotte County Commission. “We are looking for companies that are willing to make a serious commitment to Charlotte County. We want to work with them in order to make their investment successful and bring in good paying jobs for our citizens. Cheney Brothers will not only be providing a boost to the construction sector right off the bat, but it will be providing hundreds of permanent jobs. This enterprise will also open markets for new ancillary business that will be needed by their client base. It’s a winner right out of the box.”
Cheney Brothers has been a Florida staple since 1925 upon its establishment in West Palm Beach. Since then, the company has evolved into a $900 million enterprise. Aside from its headquarters in Riviera Beach, Cheney Brothers operates food distribution centers in Ocala and Orlando. However, its service area extends to Georgia and the Carolinas, and the company exports worldwide.
“I am excited at the prospect of a new location in Charlotte County,” said Bill Foley, president of Cheney Brothers. “We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership with Charlotte County. Everyone in county government has been very helpful, and I want to personally thank the Commission, county administrator Ray Sandrock and his staff for all the assistance they have provided.”
Tom Patton, the county’s economic development director, applauds the cooperative effort that culminated in the project’s success. “It has been and will be a team effort for everyone involved bringing Cheney Brothers to Charlotte County. We will be there every step of the way and will be pursuing a fast track permitting program to assist CBI,” Patton assured.