Scott uses Canada trade mission to tout company’s move to Boca Ratonby John Kennedy | June 8th, 2011
Gov. Rick Scott turned back the clock a few months to claim a victory on his trade mission to Canada, joining with Garda Worldwide Security CEO Stephan Cretier to announce the company is moving its U.S. headquarters to Boca Raton.
Groundwork for the move began last year — well before Scott was elected — and took shape in January when Palm Beach County, Boca Raton and state officials offered the company a $1 million package of incentives. The company will bring about 100 jobs from Pasadena, Cal., to Boca Raton, with salaries paying in the $65,000 range.
Although the $69.1 billion state budget signed by Scott last month is poised to cut thousands of jobs in state agencies, school districts and in the health and social services fields, the governor said he was eager to count Garda’s 100 positions toward his goal of creating 700,000 jobs in Florida over seven years.
In making the announcement from Montreal, Cretier said Scott called him on the governor’s fifth day on the job in January to say, the CEO recalled, “Hey, we want Garda in Florida.”
“I have been very impressed,” Cretier said, of Scott and the state’s courtship.
Scott, who said he plans to meet with 120 companies while in Canada, called Garda’s move a “win-win, for both Quebec and Florida.”
“I’m extremely pleased we were able to close the deal,” Scott said on Wednesday’s conference call with Cretier.
The incentives would be paid over six years, the county said. Garda has 45,000 employees around the world and sells a variety of security services, including armored vehicles to transport cash and background checks of potential employees.
Garda expects to have its 100 jobs filled by the end of 2013, and will receive its incentive dollars over six years, according to terms of the deal worked with the county. It chose Boca Raton over Wilmington, Del., and Broadview, Ill., which also had negotiated to land Garda’s American headquarters.
Cretier, a former baseball umpire, said he started the company 15 years ago with a $25,000 mortgage on his house. Last year, Garda reported $1.2 billion in revenue, Cretier said Wednesday.
Garda’s interest in Palm Beach County coincided with a drop in the cost of doing business in the area. A report released earlier this year by The Boyd Co. of Princeton, N.J., says it’s cheaper to operate a corporate headquarters here than in most U.S. cities. Palm Beach County ranks 40th of 55 metro areas.