By Caitlyn Finnegan
Gainesville city commissioners face two important economic development decisions Thursday during two separate meetings at City Hall.
The first will be a discussion of the Power District Catalyst Project Lease Amendment, a motion involving engineering firm Prioria Robotics. The company moved into the 22,000-square-foot Catalyst Project warehouse located in the Power District on February 7, a move that allowed the expanding business to remain in Gainesville as well as spark interest from other companies in the district.
Now, Prioria is requesting a lease amendment that would allow the company to sublet unused portions of the building during times when demand is slower for its services and parts of the building are going unused.
The Power District, which extends from the Kelly Power Plant to the north of Depot Avenue, is currently the focus of a strategic redevelopment initiative by the City of Gainesville and the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency. The CRA is working to fill any unused and vacant properties in the area with office and commercial spaces for private companies.
The lease agreement would only apply to companies using the building for commercial, office, light industrial or clean technology uses in line with the CRA’s strategic initiative, thereby fulfilling its mission to bring new companies into the area while solving the problem of empty space for Prioria. The maximum square footage that would be sublet is 10,000 square feet.
City commissioners will also discuss qualified target industry incentives for BioMonde, a manufacturer of larval therapy products used to treat wound types ranging from diabetic ulcers to orthopaedic wounds.
The treatment has already been used on more than 18,000 patients across Europe, and now the British life sciences/health company is looking to open a U.S-based headquarters unit to manufacture, market and sell its BioBag products. BioMonde plans to use the incentives to help reduce the overall cost of the investment and help fund training and recruitment activity.
The QTI incentive is a state-funded tool available to Florida communities to encourage job growth in targeted, high value-added businesses. It is performance-based, and BioMonde would only receive funds based on the number of jobs created, its location of operations and other criteria. Based on the current incentive criteria submitted by BioMonde, the total incentive would be $162,000; from which 10 percent would come from the city and another 10 percent would come from Alachua County over the next four years.
BioMonde plans to lease a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot space in the Florida Innovation Hub starting July 1. The new headquarters would create 18 jobs with an average salary of $52,500.
If the incentives do not pass approval, BioMonde is also considering Boston and Atlanta as possible headquarter locations.
Gareth Kempson, CEO of BioMonde, noted that Gainesville’s accessibility to the University of Florida Institute of Wound Research and the Florida Wound Care Network were both important factors to choosing the location.
“BioMonde will play a key role in attracting University of Florida graduates to remain in Gainesville and contribute to the economic progress, job creation and wealth within the city with our completion of a clinical trial and introduction of a new and innovative therapy that will improve overall patient treatment in wound care,” Kempson stated in the project’s proposal.