A global seafood canning company that is investing $21 million in a plant near Kathleen High School and planning to employ up to 115 people is asking the city of Lakeland for a $400,000 incentive to help mitigate its impact fees.

The Lakeland Economic Development Council has been working with Frinsa, a fish and meat canning company based in Spain that was looking to create a plant in Florida. According to LEDC Senior Vice President Katie Decker, the company reached out to Enterprise Florida in Tallahassee, which directed company officials to several economic development councils in cities throughout the state.   

Otis Coracides, Frinsa’s managing director for the Lakeland operation, said in addition to Lakeland’s location along Interstate 4, near the Port of Tampa, and several airports and rail lines, Frinsa chose Lakeland because of the friendly welcome they have received.

“We’re very thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of the community here in Lakeland,” Coracides said. “As we were looking at where we wanted to have our organization, we took a hard look at the east coast because of the time change.  We really found what we feel is a great home here in Lakeland because of the people here at the Lakeland Economic Development Council, the mayor, the office of the congressman.  We just felt such a warm embrace — they’ve helped us with everything where we needed support.”

On Friday morning, Decker and Coracides will attend a Lakeland City Commission agenda study session to discuss the plan to provide Frinsa with a $400,000 incentive once their manufacturing plant is completed. The incentive is intended to mitigate a portion of the city’s water and wastewater impact fees for the project.

As part of the agreement, Frinsa has promised to invest at least $20 million in capital improvements related to the facility – twice the minimum amount in order to be eligible for the incentive.

UPDATE: The City Commission approved the incentive on Nov. 21, 2022.

The company’s 180,000-square-foot facility at 900 Chestnut Road – south of Memorial Boulevard and in view of Kathleen High School – was built recently but not yet occupied; the company is transforming the building into a canning plant for their lines of tuna, salmon, sardines and chicken.

The company’s brands include Frinsa, Ribeira, The Nice Fisherman and Seaside. Currently in the U.S., Frinsa provides private-label products for Trader Joe’s and others and company officials are hoping to create a partnership with Lakeland-based Publix.

Coracides said they are leasing the facility, but they are in Lakeland for the long run. The company’s website shows its U.S. headquarters as the Lakeland office.

In addition, company officials have said they are creating 110 to 115 jobs, with an average salary of $54,206. In addition, 27 of those jobs will pay at least 125% of Polk County’s average annual wage.

According to the U.S. Census, Polk’s median household income in 2020 was $51,535, while the per capita income — the average salary each resident made — was $25,820.

According to the contract, while the facility is just outside the city limits, it will be serviced by the city-owned Lakeland Electric and the city’s water utility, which will add money into the city’s coffers.

Frinsa is a family-owned company founded in 1961 and based in Ribeira, Spain, a coastal town of about 30,000 people. Coracides said Frinsa employs about 1,000 of the town’s residents. 

He added that the company’s founder and patriarch, 90-year-old Ramiro Carregal, still comes into the office almost every day.  His son is the CEO and his grandson is the president of product development.

Frinsa has offices in Portugal, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and South Africa, employing about 1,400 people. The company’s website states that they package meat caught in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways.

“They have such an amazing relationship with the community and offer such amazing products and they treat their people well,” Coracides said.  “What we hold most dear is we make sure people working at our organization feel like they are part of a family.  We do hold that very dear and we do want to continue that sense of family and sense of community.”

He said they have already hired their first employee, who is from Lakeland.

Decker said that because the overall economic incentive program is already approved, the issue requires only one reading at the City Commission on Monday before commissioners vote on the measure.

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Kimberly C. Moore

Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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