Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County Econ Development: Start-Up, Which Hasn’t Started-Up, Looking for Free County Land & Tax Abatement

SusEco PowerPoint slide with headline:
Columbia County Observer

Columbia County, FL – Florida's infamous Columbia County 5 (County Commission) has on today's docket approval of free land and eight years of tax abatements for a company that has barely started up.


Columbia County, in the past few years, has lost approximately $200 million in economic development investment due to missteps by County Commissioner Tim Murphy, Niagara Water, and Assistant County Manager Kevin Kirby, Rhino, Inc., which went by the name of Project Wave and ended up in Suwannee County. These two projects were interested in locating in the languishing North Florida Mega Industrial Park (NFMIP)

The NFMIF was once Plum Creek, The Inland Port, The Port of the Saggy Bra, The Intermodal, and is now Weyerhaeuser’s. The site has been percolating in Columbia County since 2007.

The forced departure of former Columbia County Economic Development Director Glenn Hunter led to the County 5 eliminating the educational requirements for the Econ Dev position and also having illegal interviews for the position.

On the County 5 Docket Today

On the County docket today is what the Economic Development Director is calling “Project Cottage.” The reason for the code name is unclear as the company SusEco has not asked for confidentially.

On April 28 of this year, Economic Development Director Jennifer Goff heard from the infamous NFEDP (North Florida Economic Development Partnership), a group originally established to latch on to millions of Obama Broadband money  (North Florida Broadband Authority - NFBA)and run some of that money through the Tallahassee law firm NGN and the water and wastewater management group GSG, along with FSU, which still gets a piece of the NFEDP pie.

The NFEDP, a group with which Ms. Goff is very close, advised the County that they had a company looking to build a factory and “manufacture housing components.” The NFEDP explained that the components could be used to assemble new homes, apartments, or dormitories.

The company wanted free land, tax abatements, tax credits, or rebates, depending on how many jobs it created.

SusEco - Link to website
The SusEco website: Not much to go on. The County 5 was not interested in finding out any of the facts.

SusEco: Who or what is it?

On March 1, 2023, two months before the County heard from the NFEDP, SusEco was incorporated in Delaware. Then on March 29, SusEco registered with the Florida Department of State. The application was kicked back for technical reasons and was accepted by the DOS on May 26. Two days later, the NFEDP contacted Columbia County.

Some time or other after April 28, SusEco notified Columbia County by letter. The letter was undated. SusEco said they were interested "in establishing a manufacturing facility within the vibrant community of Columbia County."

SusEco did not provide a financial statement or anything else showing the firm's financial position or stability.

There were no factory plans or other materials from the company.

The company did provide a PowerPoint presentation that showed modular housing parts and a house. It was not clear how the pieces came together.

With virtually no information, the County's Economic Development Advisory Board, a board that sits around and chats and wastes time, approved giving free land to SusEco and tax incentives.

Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) members, off the record, believe that the EDAB is a "waste of time."

This morning at around 10:30, the County 5 will vote on whether to approve an economic development package for SusEco.

All that has been provided to the County so far is a letter from the NFEDP, which the EDAB did not get in the agenda material, and an undated letter from SusEco saying they intend to come to Columbia County.

Oh, and the firm provided a bunch of PowerPoint slides.

The owner of the company, who Econ Dev Dir Goff explained was very wealthy and successful, did not make it to the EDAB meeting because his mother-in-law was having a birthday.

He did come to Columbia County and spoke with College President Dr. Larry Barrett.

President Barrett, who is also President of the Chamber of Commerce, didn't have much to say about his meeting, telling your reporter he really wasn't clear about what SusEco was supposed to be doing.


The County 5, as some counties do, used to have those asking for abatements and other things appear before the Commission before those requests were accepted.

The new batch of the County 5, the ultimate good ole' boys, don't do that anymore.

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