It sounds like a code name from a spy novel. A new effort called "Project Ice" could bring 57 high-paying jobs to Collier County.
Another effort known as "Project Nikita" is already underway to lure a mystery company that could bring 560 jobs to Collier, with the county throwing in $1.1 million to sweeten the deal.
Kristi Bartlett, vice-president of economic development with the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, said that Project Ice would bring 57 jobs paying an average of $180,000 a year. While county commissioners have voted to spend almost $80,000 in incentives to lure that company to relocate its headquarters in Collier, Bartlett said that another state is dangling a carrot of its own.
"It is actually significantly higher than what Collier County is offering," Bartlett said. "We do have a quality of life, though, that is really unsurpassed, that I think definitely plays a role."
Naples resident Dr. Joseph Doyle, who has been critical of using tax dollars as incentives to lure companies, said that the Project Ice idea sounds better than Project Nikita. That company would bring 560 jobs, but would pay an average of $49,000 per year. He fears those employees would buy homes in neighboring counties with a lower cost of living.
"They would work here and maybe have lunch...but the major multiplier effect would go to Lee and Charlotte counties, in the event that these employees would have to commute," Doyle said.
Collier County plans to spend $1.1 million in incentives to lure the Project Nikita company, which should be announced in later in July or August. Project Ice likely won't be revealed until the fall.