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Pasco trying to convince laser firm to stay

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DADE CITY — Worried that a manufacturing company might move to California, taking 83 jobs with it, the Pasco County Commission is considering offering either a cash incentive or a tax break to try to convince the company to stay put.

VLOC Inc., which manufactures laser components and materials, has operations in Trinity and Port Richey with jobs that average more than $50,000 annually, according to the county. The company recently was acquired by Light Works Optical Systems Inc., a California-based corporation that is still evaluating its options, but could move VLOC out West.

“I really think it’s important to keep this company,” County Commissioner Pat Mulieri said Tuesday at a commission meeting.

She recalled that when VLOC first came to Pasco in 1996 she was “so excited Pasco was on the move economically.”

While the commissioners approved a motion Tuesday expressing their support for keeping the company in Pasco, the details of any incentive must be worked out. One option that went before the commissioners Tuesday was to provide the company a cash incentive of $332,000, with the stipulation that the jobs and wages must stay in Pasco County at least six years.

County Commissioner Ted Schrader, though, said he would prefer that the county instead pay the company’s property taxes. One concern Schrader had with the cash incentive was whether the county could get its money back if the company didn’t follow through on the agreement.

County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder said the county’s only option would be litigation, a prospect Schrader did not relish.

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