Established Foreign Manufacturing Company Seeks To Locate In Century; Town Council President Says No

January 4, 2023

A 50-year old foreign company with established American customers wants to lease a building owned by  the Town of Century and bring new jobs, but the president of the town council is against the idea.

According to the FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance, the company is looking to set up their first domestic manufacturing and warehouse distribution facility serving the oil and gas industry. They plan to hire five people initially, with a goal of 10 employees by the end of the year with an average salary of $46,570 — the average wage in the Pensacola area. The company hopes to begin warehouse operations by the end of February with a forthcoming expansion into manufacturing.

“They were originally planning to just do warehouse and distribution, exporting their products here,” Danita Andrews (pictured left), chief business development officer for FloridaWest, said. “They have quickly decided that they want to move forward with being able to manufacture here as well…It makes good business sense for them to manufacture here rather than continue from where they are.”

The company wants to lease a 40,000 square foot town-owned building in their industrial park known as the “Helicopter Technology Building”.  The town re-acquired the industrial building at public auction for less than $1 out of pocket back in August 2009, following the town’s foreclosure judgment against the now defunct Helicopter Technology company. The building has sat empty since then.

The lead for the project came from the international division of Enterprise Florida at the end of October, and the company visited Century and other available locations in Escambia County around Thanksgiving.

“They manufacture a component for a part for the oil and gas industry, they’re actually a plastics and rubber extrusion company,” Andrews said, adding that the raw product is in pelletized form before it is poured into a machine and molded using pressure.

Most details about the company and their plans remain confidential during discussions, as is allowed and is standard in economic development in Florida.

Andrews requested that the Century Town Council vote to allow Mayor Ben Boutwell to negotiate lease terms with the company for final approval by the council.

“It comes back to this table,” Boutwell told the council.

“Ain’t nothing fixing to be done period if I have anything to do with it,” Council President Luis Gomez (pictured left) responded.

“Okay Mr. Gomez, just keep holding us back sir. Just keep holding us back. Keep holding us back,” Boutwell rebutted.

“I’m out. Y’all can vote on it, but that ain’t what my vision is for the helicopter building,” Gomez said before asking for a motion to allow the mayor to negotiate with “this ghost client”.

Council member Dynette Lewis made a motion, clarifying that it would allow Boutwell to work with not a “ghost client” but with  FloridaWest to negotiate lease terms with the company. The motion was seconded by Jackson and passed 3-1 with Gomez against.

The company is offering a lease amount equal to a recent appraisal — $94,000 annually or $7,833 monthly — with the company paying for insurance, taxes and maintenance with a minimum five-year term.

Company officials will be in Century next week to meet individually with each town council member and look at any potential upgrades to the building. Andrews said they will need to expand the existing facility by some 1,500 to 2,000 square feet to accommodate a large piece of manufacturing equipment that requires a tall ceiling.

“There is no waste; there is nothing that would contaminate the water or the air,” Andrews said. “They can take any excess product and reutilize that again in the extrusion process. This is my understanding.”

“Twenty jobs in five years is nothing for the town of Century,” Gomez said. “They opened up a peanut factory in Atmore, which I know don’t have anything to do with us, automatically 200 jobs. That’s what I’m looking for for Century. That’s what I am looking for for Century. Something with some people that want to be transparent on their own, not somebody who comes in here under the cover of night. They’ve got to have all these stipulations under the cover of a backroom deal negotiated by somebody else. That’s not going to benefit Century.”

“It sounds to me like we put the cart before the horse. We want to give up all of this authority to the mayor to a person that we don’t know,” Gomez continued. “We can’t even do due diligence. We can’t do no type of research. We can’t see what the background is, but we are supposed to just come in here and give him (the mayor) the authority to negotiate on behalf of the town and then accept or not accept whatever they come up with.”

“I’ve got to stick to my convictions. I’m just tired of people coming into Century wanting to hide,” he said.

The FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance is the economic development organization for Escambia County.

Comments

36 Responses to “Established Foreign Manufacturing Company Seeks To Locate In Century; Town Council President Says No”

  1. Teresa Mitchell on January 24th, 2023 6:07 pm

    Willing to hire 5 employees definitely won’t be any from Century area

  2. CJ Lewis on January 5th, 2023 8:37 pm

    How about asking the people who live in Century if they have any good ideas?
    The people usually have a lot better ideas than the government. Its hard to believe that this foreign company promising a pitiful ten jobs will actually hire Century residents or that the paychecks will stay in the town. Tell them to set-up shop in East Milton with everyone else. The town should figure out how to use the building in a way that generates a lot more than a pitiful $94k a year. I was part of a meeting held in the building in 2009. When I was on the Escambia County Consolidation Study Commission I insisted that we had to hold a meeting “in” Century and we did. Mayor McCall game my wife Yvonne and I a nice tour of the town. Nice place; nice people; no real plan. What need exists in the Century metropolitan area to include Atmore and Brewton for which for which the building would be a good fit? It’s a bit off the beaten path but it might be suitable for an antiques mall is properly advertised with the town getting a cut of the action from sales. Preference could be given to vendors who are town residents. Another idea is an indoor shooting range run by the town with town residents allowed to shoot for free. Everyone else would pay a small fee. The town would make money off firearm and ammo sales. It could become a marksmanship training center with competitions. Rather than sit back and wait for ideas, better to come up with a plan and work it. Whatever the plan, ensure the money stays in Century. By the way, Century only became a town in the 1940s – South Flomaton. Mayor McCall told me that it incorporated to allow for alcohol sales. In 1979, it changed its name to Century looking back to 1901. By a simple majority vote, the people can change its name anytime they want. Has anyone thought to ask them what they might like? Century has a stigma. How about Prosperity? Imagine all the state candidates who will want to visit and have their picture taken in front of that sign! Or sell the naming rights and give all residents their fair share of the annual check. Anyone know how many tourists drive past Century each day without stopping? Another option is to come up with something they’ll want to see. How about partnering with the National Naval Aviation Museum for revolving exhibits? All the kids will want their parents to stop the car to go see the airplanes. There’s plenty of room outside too for static displays. Be creative. By the way, $2.35 a square foot per year seems pretty cheap. I think there’s a place at the Ellyson Industrial Park with 3,500 square feet in Ferry Pass that’s up for lease at $11 a square foot per year. Maybe Century needs to hire a commercial realtor to advise it.

  3. bobk on January 5th, 2023 6:56 pm

    What, if anything, has been done on a professional level to market the property to commercial entities??

  4. A.W.Thompson on January 5th, 2023 4:40 pm

    This is exactly why small towns and churches should stay out of the real estate business.A 40000 sq.ft. building sitting idle for years while Century crumbles and decays,I thought Flomaton was the only town that fought improvement,jobs and progress.A.W Thompson Mosquito Flats,Fl.

  5. David Huie Green on January 5th, 2023 1:27 pm

    REGARDING:
    “They want to manufacture plastics”

    Actually, they want to USE plastics to manufacture.

    Read it again:
    “They manufacture a component for a part for the oil and gas industry, they’re actually a plastics and rubber extrusion company,” Andrews said, adding that the raw product is in pelletized form before it is poured into a machine and molded using pressure.

    Take pellets of thermoplastic. Heat. Squeeze to extrude through shaped hole. Contemplate all the plastic tubing being used as they prepare to run fiberoptic lines.

    Most clothing is or contains plastic fibers, water pipes bring in drinking water, vinyl siding and flooring and records, your grocery bags, foosballs, ice coolers. Hmmm, we all use plastics.

    David for plastic cars

  6. Carl on January 5th, 2023 10:33 am

    @ Sally Soapbox Karen
    Your handle fits.
    You forgot something.
    Council President Luis Gomez has an opinion as any other person.
    I remember when all you whiners here would jump on a roadside tortillia stand bid and claim it would be a great business to attract because everyone likes tortillias.
    Do you practice these ramblings with zero substance in the mirror and have people come in the house to practice this on them?
    Have at it Karen..its your right..just like
    Council President Luis Gomez.
    I am 100% with Council President Luis Gomez.
    My right too.
    Want a Taco?

  7. sam on January 5th, 2023 10:18 am

    sell it or rent it. get some taxes out of it. i don’t care what it is used for, the town needs MONEY.

  8. Concerned Citizen on January 5th, 2023 9:23 am

    These types of companies come to small minority towns and bring nothing but pollution and death. They want to manufacture plastics have any of you even researched and saw the impacts these types of plants have on the local area? Our kids and elders will be exposed to the toxic air everyday.

    This will set the town back and the few people we have left will have life long health problems in the future. We don’t need this.

  9. Sally Soapbox on January 5th, 2023 8:29 am

    Gomez, who are you speaking for? Yourself, or the citizens? Not “your vision”? Well, I’m glad you think your opinion is the only one that matters. So enlighten us, what exactly is your vision?
    It’s not going to hurt a darn thing to hear out the proposals, do some “due diligence” and “research”. And yes, “just come in here and give the mayor the authority to negotiate on behalf of the town”, and have it put up for a vote before the council.
    Is it about the money? How much money is that empty building bringing into the town coffers now?
    This is no longer a mill town. We are a pass-through to the beautiful beaches of Pensacola. No one has heard of this town. And here is a company who wants to come in and pour into the economy, and you want to shoot it down before it’s even been looked into. When do you run for office again? I’ll make sure to note vote for you.

  10. Bag on January 5th, 2023 2:48 am

    Please enlighten me on why you possibly would not want to bring jobs and revenue to Century. Pardon my ignorance but I’m missing something.

  11. D.B. on January 4th, 2023 9:08 pm

    Y’all have one …. up town?

  12. D.B. on January 4th, 2023 9:04 pm

    Looks like y’all have ANOTHER problem on your hands…to rent (finally) or not to rent…been13 years y’all…just saying! I would be asking GOMEZ what he plans to do with the building in the…THIS year!

  13. Michael Key on January 4th, 2023 8:51 pm

    I do not live within the limits so I reckon my opinion matters little to these folks. I do however have an address that must say “Century, Fl”. I dispise this.

    I have to fight this location stigma regularly as an individual working in the area and also as a small business owner. When I say “Century, Fl”, folks either look at me in bewilderment or stare at me with the glazed over look and ask “where in the world is that?” I take every chance I can to make sure folks know I don’t live in Century. Fl. I’m proud to say I live in and work in the Byrneville/Bratt communities as well as Pensacola.

    It makes no difference to me whose side you are on. I have no vote in the matter. I do care about residing in a place that holds some semblance of respect. This place called Century, Fl., please, do something to bring respect to it. Jobs, opportunity to grow… the status quo doesn’t seem to be working.

  14. Jim on January 4th, 2023 6:48 pm

    Century.
    That’s all you need to say.

  15. Chris on January 4th, 2023 6:10 pm

    Why is Century so backwards?

  16. David Huie Green on January 4th, 2023 3:06 pm

    REGARDING ”
    “Ain’t nothing fixing to be done period if I have anything to do with it,”

    You have to admire a man who knows his own NOs, who has made up his mind in advance not to advance.

    It may turn out that he would be right to oppose whatever they offer if they offer nothing good. Still, reasonable negotiations could result in binding promises for good things. We can’t know before they try.

    One man. One vote. Maybe the others agree or maybe they have open, unprejudiced minds.

    David for better people

  17. Cindy on January 4th, 2023 2:29 pm

    “Company officials will be in Century next week to meet individually with each town council member and look at any potential upgrades to the building.” Wouldn’t meeting with the council members individually to discuss council business be a violation of the Sunshine law?
    Due diligence especially with a foreign company is absolutely necessary.

  18. derek on January 4th, 2023 2:02 pm

    The building has been empty since 2009!!!!! THIS IS A NO BRAINER

  19. Citizen on January 4th, 2023 12:03 pm

    Seems like it would be better to sell the building rather than have responsibility for upkeep and liability and updates.

  20. Jim on January 4th, 2023 12:01 pm

    It’s all in the wording with promises of potential hiring numbers. Folks really are desperate to believe that other than a grounds keeper or receptionist that those jobs are going to be local selects.
    It won’t any different than any other foreign company that has moved into a rural area no matter the location. This will be just a grapple for securing business networking and waiting for just the right yes person to take the seat so restrictions can be altered. All that glitters isn’t gold sometimes. Laws and policies are created by those that prosper from them and the lack of obtainable information is in it self just sends a hold on a minute red flag.
    Just my opinion but I’m sticking to it.

  21. Chelleepea on January 4th, 2023 10:19 am

    Let’s be realistic guys…..Amazon is not going to setup a warehouse in Century anytime soon. Only 20 jobs in 5 years, well this building has been empty for 3 times as long with no employees. Yes we would like to get 200 jobs from the get-go but it’s not happening. How many more decades must we wait for the BIG thing to save us. We build small and grow from there. We have to build step-by-step and once industries see how we’ve built the town piece by piece they will come. We have to start small and grow. There won’t be one big miracle.

  22. LouLou on January 4th, 2023 9:49 am

    Well I don’t have a dog in this game but as some say any jobs is better than none. And maybe by this company coming in it will encourage others to want to come in to. This man who wants to hold it up doesn’t give any alternative just that he would like to see something else with more jobs. What has he put forth for a better alternative, has he even been working on any other option? Or just saying and not producing anything?
    It’s kinda of sad how Century still hasn’t grown over the past thirty/ forty years. Still looks like the same old run down town it was in the 80’s. Other than fast food, banks, convenience stores there really isn’t much to it.

  23. RaD on January 4th, 2023 9:35 am

    @mnon – Amazon fulfillment centers average about 800,000 square feet, employ 1500 people, and are built from scratch to their specifications. I highly doubt they are interested in Century’s 40,000 sq ft run down building.

    The City of Century acquired the building in 2009. This is 2023. It has not made a dime during that time and at a minimum, has cost money to upkeep and maintain. I have read these stories over the years and every time, someone on the council doesn’t like the deal because it will not employ enough people. 13+ years with no income and no jobs but the dream of a large company coming in wanting to employ 200-300 people (more than are wanting work in Century) lives on and apparently always will. Meanwhile a money making asset sits empty.

  24. Jr on January 4th, 2023 9:29 am

    Gomez is too stupid to be on the council, and you all made him the president. Ever since this last council was voted in it seems like they just try to vote against anything the mayor wants, and all he wants is to better this town. This whole council needs to be voted out.

  25. Century resident on January 4th, 2023 9:19 am

    @ slickstr, well, corporate- rebel, straight shooter, sunrise photo, and good idea run Forrest run. I agree with all of you!

  26. CA on January 4th, 2023 8:53 am

    It won’t hurt to meet with the people. That will be the time for each council member to ask questions. Then, make an educated decision. I would suggest that Mr. Gomez refrain from using the word “ain’t”. And, phrases such as “We can’t do no type of research”.

  27. Oversight on January 4th, 2023 8:31 am

    Gomez, what a nincompoop. Atmore, “…I know don’t have anything to do with us ain’t Century…” The understatement of the “century” by his Lordship, ruler of the council. LOL! Heck, Atmore has upgraded and got themselves a Walmart. He must realize Atmore has the Tribe pushing them down the success road, right? What does Century have? Ah, yes, their inept town council circle of clowns, which by the way is now fully topped off again with new members being added this week. Maybe they’ll reign in his highness, lord Gomez and be a more reasoned group. Otherwise, they’ll surely continue to provide us with lots of free entertainment.

  28. Slickstr on January 4th, 2023 7:53 am

    Told y’all a few years ago to vote-out/fire all these elements and start all over

  29. Well on January 4th, 2023 7:35 am

    Be honest Louie.
    There’s not 200 people in Century looking for a job.

    The people that slide in slide right out the other side as they travel 29.

    Listen to the proposal, then decide.

  30. Corporate-Rebel on January 4th, 2023 6:48 am

    Gomez needs to be GONEmez…..sweep city hall clean at the ballot box.He’s done nothing except try to undercut Boutwell at every turn.

  31. StraightShooter on January 4th, 2023 6:45 am

    How long has that building set empty…….. How much income are you making off of tenants now…………..If they check out legit, lease it to them.

  32. SunrisePhoto on January 4th, 2023 6:38 am

    “Ten jobs are NOTHING guys, this company is going to tie that building up for 5 years, for ten jobs. ”

    Yet 10 jobs is greater than the zero jobs this building has supported for the last 14 years. And $7,833 monthly is greater than $0 monthly that’s been generated in that same time.

    All I see is Gomez wishing for some white knight to ride in and save the town. At this rate, it will be 14 more years before that happens (if it ever does). Why doesn’t Gomez want to meet with the folks, ask questions, then make a decision? It seems weird to not even want to entertain a discussion with them.

  33. Good Idea, run forest run on January 4th, 2023 6:23 am

    The State of Florida, Enterprise Florida, and Florida West all would have vetted this company Mr Gomez. The motion was to negotiate with them. You will meet them and learn about it next week. You can learn about them then and see if there are any concerns. Instead you’ll run yet another business away from Century with you inept attitude. Way to move Century backwards.

  34. mnon on January 4th, 2023 4:30 am

    WOW… I actually agree with Mr. Gomez. For the first time ever. Ten jobs are NOTHING guys, this company is going to tie that building up for 5 years, for ten jobs. No telling what toxic products they’ll be producing there working in the petroleum industry as well.

    Century should be marketing that property for bigger businesses. ie An Amazon distribution warehouse would bring in more than ten jobs.

  35. Jcellops on January 4th, 2023 3:47 am

    The secrecy of a “foreign identity” company would give me pause, until there is clear transparency. Could be a Trojan horse situation. Comparatively speaking, it does not seem like there’s really a lot of projected employee positions to be had, if this venture does comes to fruition.

  36. Citizen on January 4th, 2023 1:32 am

    Good to get that building leased out finally.





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