Eastern Shipbuilding Receives Tax Break, Creates Jobs

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PANAMA CITY - One of Bay County's largest employers will be receiving a tax break to bring in more jobs to the area.

County commissioners unanimously voted to give Eastern Shipbuilding Company an ad valorem tax exemption for expanding its business.

Conservative estimates show the company will bring in at least 50 jobs to the area, but Bay County Economic Development Alliance officials believe they could create as many as 150 jobs over the next three years.

Eastern Shipbuilding Group managers requested a tax exemption to buy $4.4 million worth of equipment. They say this will create dozens of jobs as a result.

The county will lose out on about $15,000 worth of tax money from the company, but county officials say it's a more than fair trade off.

"The residual effect across the community is going to be tremendous with the new jobs coming to Bay County from this effort. I think it's going to be a win for Bay County," said Bay County Commissioner, Bill Dozier.

Bay County residents voted in favor of this kind of tax break in 2010. It allows county commissioners to grant tax exemptions for new and existing expanding businesses.

EDA officials say the hourly wage for these new jobs will be about $19. It's a few dollars above the average hourly wage in Bay County.