International fuel-services brokerage to double size, add 50 jobs with move to Miami Lakes
By Paola Iuspa
Five local and international companies expect to add a total of 122 jobs during the next three years through expansions or new offices in Miami-Dade County, according to the Beacon Council.
The largest, World Fuel Services of Miami Springs, will almost double the size of its headquarters after a move company officials hope to make by year's end to Miami Lakes.
The fuel-services brokerage, operating at more than 1,100 airports and seaports worldwide, was considering moving elsewhere in South Florida, said Frank Shea, vice president and chief financial officer.
"We wanted to stay in the area to make it convenient for our staff," he said.
Offering Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Incentives helped convince company officials to stay in Miami-Dade, said Carlos Leonard of the Beacon Council, the county's economic development agency.
The enticement calls for refunding $3,000 for every new job the company creates. The state will foot 80% of the bill and the county the rest, said Mr. Leonard, senior vice president of business expansion, retention and recruitment.
The Beacon Council projects Fuel Services will generate 50 jobs in the next three years.
With $1.8 billion in sales, the group currently hires 350 employees worldwide, 250 locally, Mr. Shea said. At its current site for more than a decade, he said, the firm wants to accommodate its growing staff with a move to a leased 32,000-square-foot office.
In another expansion, Fergo Universal Clothing Co. of Miami expects to add 12 jobs, according to the Beacon Council. The sportswear manufacturer and distributor recently won a contract to make clothes for the Sports Authority, a council spokesperson said, and plans to create 12 jobs during the next three years.
Meanwhile, three international companies are planting new roots in Miami-Dade.
Slim & Soft Bread, an Argentine industrial baker of bread and pastries specializing in English slim bread, and Venetian Classic Décor, an Israeli distributor of OIKOS, an Italian- and water-made finishing, plan to start doing business in the Miami area very soon.
Both companies are in the planning stage.
Slim & Soft is furnishing a 15,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the Little River industrial district west of Biscayne Boulevard to open by late October, said Eduardo Jimenez, heading the Miami branch. He said he hopes to be able to sell the foot-long white bread to supermarkets and catering companies throughout the US and abroad. He said his bread is made for three-layer sandwiches, with cold cuts on top and toppings on the bottom. Mr. Jimenez said he got the recipe from British ancestors who immigrated to Argentina in the mid-1800s to build railroads.
While he expects to open the plant with 10 employees, he projects employing 30 by 2004.
Mr. Jimenez said he got a lot of information from Beacon Council representatives, whom he met in 2001 at a trade show sponsored by CAMACOL, the Latin Chamber of Commerce of the US.
Mr. Leonard said his group helped Mr. Jimenez locate within the Miami-Dade Enterprise Zone to benefit from financial incentives such as tax breaks and refunds available only in the zone.
Mario Waisman of Venetian Classic Décor chose to set up camp in North Miami Beach, where he plans to open a 4,000-square-foot warehouse, showroom and office.
To date, he said, he has invested $350,000 in the venture.
Manufactured in Italy, the products available at the new Décor Center include Venetian Stucco, Marmorino, Faux Effect, and silk and velvet finishing, he said.
Clients who will be served by the distribution center previously would have had to wait for the materials to arrive by ship, Mr. Waisman said.
He said he hopes to hire up to 30 employees over the next three years and will train anyone who paints and has art skills to become a specialist in the field.
Mr. Waisman said he didn't need financial help or incentives to locate in Miami, the only US distribution hub.
"The Beacon Council did not give me anything," he said. "Just a warm welcome."
Provisio of Germany, a developer of Internet browsers has also opened a subsidiary in the county, according to the Beacon Council, but the agency could not offer details about the company.