A Lakeland manufacturing business is planning a $36 million expansion as it asks for a $400,000 grant through the city’s Economic Development Infrastructure Incentive Program.

Keymark Corporation of Florida plans to add new equipment to its existing facility at Knights Station and George Wheeler roads and will also add a new 76,326-square-foot building at 3155 Drane Field Road to accommodate an additional line of equipment.

The company makes products created by pushing heated aluminum through a die, which are then used to create a variety of items used in the construction, automotive, electrical, machinery, transportation, and consumer industries.

Keymark officials say the company is creating at least 25 new jobs at both Lakeland facilities, which will pay at least 100% of Polk County’s average annual wage of $46,763 or $22.48 an hour. The company will invest an estimated $36 million in capital improvements –- more than three and a half times the amount required by the incentive program.

Examples of Keymark’s aluminum extrusion products

Keymark has applied for $400,000 in assistance, which is the maximum amount available to a single project under the city incentive program; if approved by the City commission on Monday, the incentive will be given when final certificate of occupancy is issued.

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

Keymark officials say the money will be used to assist with the relocation of electric lines and wastewater extensions.

It is one of two companies whose requests for the manufacturing incentives will be considered at Monday’s meeting. The requests are the first two made under an incentive program approved by the City Commission in 2019.

“The Economic Development Infrastructure Incentive Program supports the development of both new and expanding economic development projects that advance the manufacturing base within the City of Lakeland,” according to the program’s application form. “Assistance may be provided to qualified projects through electric, water and wastewater utility extensions and relocations, transportation infrastructure development and/or utility impact fee reimbursements.”

Applicants must meet at least one of three criteria:

  • Create a minimum of 25 new jobs paying an average wage of 125% of the Polk County average annual wage
  • Create a minimum of 50 new jobs paying an average wage of 100% of Polk County average annual wage
  • Minimum capital investment of $10 million

Global seafood-canning company Frinsa is investing $21 million in a plant near Kathleen High School, where it plans to employ between 100 and 115 people, 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; that calculates to at least $58,454 or $28.10 an hour.

If Frinsa’s incentive is approved, it would offset $400,000 of its anticipated utility impact fee of $2.5 million when construction is completed.

Frinsa headquarters on Chestnut Road

Keymark was founded in Fonda, N.Y., in 1946.  It opened its 100,000-square-foot facility on Knights Station Road in 1998, creating 100 new jobs and investing $15 million in equipment. In the last 24 years, it has added millions of dollars in more equipment and 240 additional jobs. Company officials say 75% of their employees live in Polk County.

The $400,000 incentives are coming from Lakeland Electric, a city-owned and operated utility, and the city’s water utilities.

Both Frinsa and Keymark’s facilities will be high-volume users of Lakeland Electric, pumping money back into city coffers.

Frinsa’s managing director for the Lakeland operation, Otis Coracides, told city commissioners at an agenda study meeting Friday morning that not only is the company investing in Lakeland for the long run, it is considering moving its international headquarters from the fishing village of Ribeira, Spain, to Lakeland.

In addition to Coracides, Frinsa has hired Human Resources Director Lindsey McCain as its second employee in Lakeland. McCain began her professional life at the Lakeland Public Library and is so local that she has a swan tattoo on her arm, according to Katie Worthington Decker, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Lakeland Economic Development Council to support the incentive requests.

Frinsa is a family-owned company founded in 1961 by 90-year-old Ramiro Carregal, who still comes into the office almost every day.  His son is the CEO and his grandson is the president of product development.

Keymark of Florida Vice President and General Manager Joe Crenna said that while entry-level jobs start at about $17 an hour, most of the plant’s supervisors rose from that level.

“One of the things I am most proud of since 1997, our leadership at our plant is all homegrown — absolutely every single manager and supervisor, except for maybe maintenance, it’s all homegrown,” Crenna said. “People that literally started out at the entry level. In the last year, we’ve been aggressively raising our wages and our benefits. It’s a fact of life these days. The market has supported it, so far.”

Commissioner Mike Musick applauded the LEDC for helping the companies expand or move to Lakeland and the companies for investing in the city and hiring local residents, who then spend their salaries in the local economy.

“They’re taking their money and paying a mortgage, to get gas, and buying food and you know, so that the trickle down effect of that that money is just amazing,” Musick said. “To take that and really break it down and to say that there are people here that are going to have their livelihood because of the work that everybody here has done together … just I like it.”

The vote on both incentive grants will come during Monday morning’s City Commission meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. in the commission chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 228 S. Massachusetts Ave.

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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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