MELBOURNE, Florida - The president and CEO of The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast declined on Friday to offer specifics of its proposal in May 2012 to lure BlueWare, Inc. to Melbourne.
“While a non-disclosure agreement precludes us from providing specific details, the company identified a need for a skilled labor pool and competitive tax environment,” Lynda Weatherman said.
BlueWare and its subsidiary BlueGem, LLC were awarded a controversial $8.7 million contract last summer from the former Brevard County Clerk of the Court Mitch Needelman to scan documents.
This contract is currently under scrutiny by current Clerk Scott Ellis. He has called it a “sham.”
Ellis has filed an official request to the EDC for release of its documents related to BlueWare. Weatherman replied to Ellis that “the EDC legal counsel has advised the information held by the EDC is currently both confidential and exempt from disclosure.”
Weatherman said to Brevard Times, “In general, the functions of an economic development organization working with an out-of-market prospect involve assisting the company in understanding comparative tax advantages, as well as the availability of a skilled workforce able to meet a company’s growing needs, and other areas, such as incentives available at both the state and local levels,”
“Economic development analyses often include workforce availability and cost, payroll tax comparatives, property tax and corporate tax evaluations – in other words, the economic facets that businesses take into account when they consider alternate locations.”
Weatherman also responded regarding a May 2012 press release from Governor Rick Scott that said BlueWare would "invest over $1 million in tangible property and equipment to support operations."
“Our involvement in this project was limited to the standard, widely-accepted and utilized economic development best practices that we offer to any business that we are encouraging to locate or expand in Brevard County,” Weatherman said.
“The $1 million investment refers to the company’s corporate capital expenditure to support the start-up of its operation in Brevard County. We have no knowledge of the contract between the company and the Brevard Clerk of Court and it was not part of our economic development proposal.”
Brevard Times asked Weatherman that since BlueWare has a government contract should they be required to make their budgetary information (payroll, equipment lease/purchase, building lease/purchase) and work deliverables (numbers of documents scanned and delivered) available to the press and public.
Weatherman said, “BlueWare is a privately-held company and, as such, is not required to release financial information.”
Social media sites indicate that BlueWare owner Rose Harr has re-located from Brevard to England – after moving here from Michigan in June 2012. Weatherman was asked if EDC had any knowledge of this.
“We understand from working with BlueWare that the company has significant operations in the United Kingdom and sees that market as one with solid growth potential,” Weatherman added. “However, we have no knowledge of the president’s private living arrangements.”
Gov. Scott’s office was contacted regarding this story, but did not respond.