By Pam Zubeck
Colorado Springs City Council voted unanimously on Nov. 12 to grant a local business a tax incentive but refused to name the business.
It’s unclear when the identity will be revealed for a company to which the city assigned the code name “Project Beach.”
For $14,310 in sales and use tax breaks, the city hopes to reap a tax benefit of $1.25 million over four years from the company, which is described in agenda materials as “a rapidly growing communications technology company that makes it easy for businesses to build relationships with customers through videos in email, text, and social media.”
The city goes on to say Project Beach operates in 40 countries and sends more than 126 million minutes of video through its products annually.
When asked for more information, city spokesperson Kim Melchor told us by email, “Project Beach is confidential at this time. We will be glad to obtain and provide additional information once this is no longer a confidential project. Currently all of the information is included with the City Council Agenda Item.”
Councilor Andy Pico said via email, “… code names are used for potential projects that are in consideration and not firm. So in order to protect confidentiality of potential companies before they make decision and public disclosure, they are code named.”
He later said the name of the company was revealed during an executive session, which are considered secret, meaning councilors can’t reveal information discussed in closed meetings. After the vote, Pico said he still couldn’t reveal the company’s name.
Regardless, Mayor John Suthers proposed council approve rebates on sales tax and use tax related to expanding the company’s headquarters from 18,700 to 28,700 square feet, which the city says would total $14,310.
That expansion will bring new employees, but how many isn’t clear. The agenda backup says Project Beach employs 121 people companywide and plans to hire an additional 186 in the next four years. Of those, 40 would be relocated here.
“With creation of these new full-time jobs, Project Beach desires to invest in business personal property, including communications equipment, and construction materials for its facilities expansion,” the agenda materials say.
According to the Dec. 20, 2018, meeting minutes of the Colorado Economic Development Commission, the state granted an incentive of $293,660 to “Project Beach,” or $1,372 for each of 214 new full-time equivalent jobs the employer plans to create over a five-year period. That presentation stated that Project Beach needed to “nearly triple” its workforce by adding 250 jobs by the end of 2024.
“This incentive is contingent upon the creation of up to 214 net new full-time jobs at a minimum average annual wage of $48,100, 100% of El Paso County’s [average annual wage], in support of this project,” the Colorado EDC’s minutes say.
Pico didn’t know whether the state incentive was directed at the same company, but the city’s economic development official Bob Cope attended that EDC meeting.
The city’s agenda materials assert that Project Beach’s 186 new hires will be paid an average of $82,642 a year. A council aide said the company intends to issue a news release “if a final decision is made to come to Colorado Springs.”