County is providing incentives to retain, create jobs

After confirming Monday that it plans to outsource 80 finance jobs to Guatemala and India, Office Depot is under the watchful eye of Palm Beach County's assistant administrator Shannon LaRocque.

Boca Raton-based Office Depot agreed to retain at least 1,750 employees in accepting multimillion-dollar incentives from the county and the state. The office supply retailer signed an incentive contract with the county on Aug. 18, 2009, to receive $650,000 a year in maximum incentives over a 10-year period, in return for capital investment, job retention, job creation and maintain a certain average salary.

So far, Office Depot has received $952,822 in incentives, LaRocque said.

LaRocque said the company fulfilled its promised $210 million capital investment when it built a new headquarters in Boca Raton. And last year, Office Depot met its agreement to retain workers with a total of 1,752 workers on record, LaRocque said.

But the plan to outsource 80 jobs, under new CEO Neil Austrian, has the county concerned. LaRocque called Office Depot to ask for a meeting with the chief executive and it is being scheduled -- soon, she said Tuesday. The county made the agreement when Steve Odland was CEO; Austrian was interim and then appointed new chief executive and chairman in late May.

Office Depot also agreed to retain an average annual salary of $76,792, and to create 200 jobs by August 2014 and maintain those until August of 2019, LaRocque said.

The office supply retail company also received more than $7 million in grants from the state of Florida.

"To date they have not defaulted on their agreement," LaRocque said. "We want to hear from them that they have every intention of living up to this agreement. They’ve got to answer to the state and they have to answer to the county."



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