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"Project Mango" expected to be a big economic driver for Leon County

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Posted at 1:38 AM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 09:36:53-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — A large-scale new development could make its way to the east side of Tallahassee.

A 170-acre fulfillment center is up for discussion in the county. The proposed location is between Mahan Drive, Thornton Drive, and Vineland Drive; brushing up against I-10.

Not many details are known about what is being called "Project Mango", including who and what is behind the center.

PLACE Director Ben Pingree described it as "a distribution center for a large company that ships a lot of goods."

The Tallahassee-Leon Office of Economic Vitality says due to the competitive nature of the ongoing site selection process for the county, the company formally requested full confidentiality of certain information. Under Florida law Section 288.075, that's permissible.

The Office of Economic Vitality met Thursday afternoon to present a recruitment proposal under its Targeted Business Program to its Cabinet.

Project Mango would require funding from OEV. That money would come from the Targeted Business Program through OEV's Capital Improvement Budget totaling $2.56 million over six years.

OEV predicts the center would give Leon County a $451.1 million economic impact in return. That includes 3,602 jobs and $167.6 million in wages. Of those jobs, 1,000 would be long-term with a starting base pay of $15 an hour.

The Cabinet unanimously approved the proposal.

PLACE Director Ben Pingree is directly involved in planning. He says the plans aren't set in stone because the unknown company is still weighing its options between other cities.

"Business decisions are made by the company. They identified the land as a location adjacent to a number of transportation facilities like the interstate that really worked for them," he said.

Meetings such as Mondays are a way to prepare and further sell to the company why Tallahassee is the best choice.

"If we're a success and 'Project Mango' does choose our community to locate this facility, their intention is to move quickly; begin construction by August and open up jobs in the fall," he said.

There are many more steps in the process this week alone. On May 26th, there is an Application Review Meeting. Home and business owners within 1,000 feet of the proposed site will be able to attend. From there, it goes to a Development Review Committee in mid-June. A final hearing will happen at the County Commission Meeting on July 13.

On May 27, there's also an Intergovernmental Agency meeting. The IA Board will give a final stamp of approval in Targeted Business Program funds from OEV. If approved, the company will be notified of the funding agreement.

"If approved by the IA Board and if the company selects us, it will be the biggest largest recruitment in the history of our community," said Pingree.