Pierce Manufacturing in Manatee lays off 129 after qualifying for $2.5 million in incentives

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 19, 2013 

BRADENTON -- An ambulance manufacturing plant in Bradenton that laid off 129 employees qualified for more than $2 million in incentives since 2007.

Pierce Manufacturing, 1512 38th Ave., is ending its Medtec ambulance line two years after it moved the line to Florida, but will keep its fire truck line intact. Pierce's Medtec ambulance line came to Bradenton in 2011 from Indiana and Michigan as part of a consolidation. But because government budgets were being cut across the country and orders for emergency vehicles were down, the company closed the ambulance line.

Pierce Manufacturing has qualified for up to $2,471,000 from Enterprise Florida in incentives since 2007. The awards are a mix of guaranteed money and maximum allowed refunds, as long as Pierce met certain job numbers.

In 2011 alone, when Pierce expanded its Florida operation, the company received $424,000 in Qualified Targeted Industries tax refunds from Enterprise Florida; the company received $980,000 in various incentives in 2010 for emergency vehicle manufacturing. The Manatee County Commission also gave Pierce $150,000 in a Qualified Targeted Industries tax refund plus a $175,000 Economic Development Incentive.

Pierce Manufacturing will not pay back tax incentives for its performance in 2012, said Karen Stewart, incentives program manager for Manatee County Economic Development. No incentives were awarded for 2013, when the layoffs began.

Stewart received a letter from Enterprise Florida that stated Pierce met its monthly average job commitments, averaging 103 new jobs in 2012, and was only required to create 66. Pierce also paid at least $215,448 in ad valorum taxes that year, according to Enterprise Florida. The state intends to provide the ad valorum tax refund, and the county will match it, Stewart said. The company was approved for a refund of up to $650,000, according to Enterprise Florida.

-- Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter can be contacted at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.

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