Area Development
JRL Enterprises Inc. plans to expand its composite tool-making business subsidiary, JRL Ventures, and create 80 new jobs through the purchase the former Wellcraft manufacturing facility in South Manatee County, Florida.

Sharon Hillstrom, president and chief executive officer of the Manatee Economic Development Corp, said “The former Wellcraft facility has been sitting idle since 2008 when the marine manufacturing operation was moved. We are pleased to work with Bob Long, whose engineering and custom composite manufacturing business will bring this large property back to life with high-impact jobs.”

Long, who worked as president of Wellcraft in Manatee County from 1976 through the 1980s, is the owner and chief executive officer of JRL Enterprises, its affiliate, JRL Ventures, and an associated business, Marine Concepts, Hillstrom said. The companies provide highly sophisticated design engineering and manufacturing of composite-material plugs and molds used by other manufacturers to create parts and products. The companies’ work is used in a wide array of finished products, such as flight simulators, boats and even rocket parts such as nose cones for NASA.

“We are busting at the seams at our current locations in Cape Coral and Pine Island,” Long said. “We searched in Lee County for an appropriate facility and considered out-of-state opportunities, but we ultimately turned to Manatee County where I had worked for so long. The former Wellcraft facility has the elements we need, such as size, ventilation and some necessary equipment. It’s virtually ready to house our expanded operations right away, which is essential to our meeting production schedules for our customers.” In addition to purchasing the property, Long says the company is purchasing an additional, large 5-Axis CNC robotic router that will operate at the new Manatee County location at a cost of almost $1 million installed.

“Thankfully, Florida was able to accommodate JRL’s expansion needs, which has positioned the state for 80 new jobs,” said Enterprise Florida President and Chief Executive Officer Gray Swoope. “The teamwork and commitment to supporting JRL that was demonstrated in this project reflects our state’s business-friendly culture.”

Manatee County Government, Enterprise Florida and the Manatee Economic Development Corporation were among the partners who helped to bring this expansion to fruition.

The substantial capital investment the company will make in buying the property and additional equipment, the amount of which was not immediately available, combined with the potential for creating 80 new jobs and preserving at least 120 existing Florida jobs, qualified JRL Ventures for state and county economic development incentives. The State of Florida committed $192,000, while Manatee County Government approved up to $48,000 in performance-based incentives. To qualify for the incentives, the company must create 80 jobs over three years with an average annual wage of at least $34,556, which is equivalent to the county average. The project also qualified for the state’s “brownfield” program, which could provide up to $160,000 in sales tax rebates.