North Brevard economic panel sweetens incentives to lure gun-maker to Titusville

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North Brevard County’s economic development board on Friday sweetened its offer to a New York-based gun manufacturer it hopes to attract to Titusville.

Dark Storm Industries LLC is considering moving its gun manufacturing operations to the Spaceport Commerce Park in south Titusville, bringing 50 jobs to the Space Coast. The company currently is based in Oakdale, Long Island, but is outgrowing its facilities.

Dark Storm also is considering another, undisclosed site in Florida, narrowing down its options to those two from locations in various states, according to North Brevard Economic Development Zone Executive Director Troy Post.

Friday, the zone’s board approved a plan under which Dark Storm would pay $362,600 for a 9.8-acre, undeveloped, county-owned site in the Spaceport Commerce Park. But the company would be reimbursed for the purchase costs in four annual “economic incentive grant” payments of $90,650 at the end of 2023 through 2026 if Dark Storm constructs a building of at least 25,000 square feet on the property, operates its business there and adds at least 15 jobs.

Post said this is the first incentive of its type that the North Brevard Economic Development Zone board has approved.

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The board previously approved two other incentives for Dark Storm totaling $500,000 to help reimburse the company for infrastructure and site improvements, as well as for capital investments.

Those incentives are dependent on the company creating a total of at least five jobs by the end of 2023; 10 jobs by the end of 2024; 17 jobs by the end of 2025, and 25 jobs by the end of 2026.

The new Dark Storm jobs would be in a range of categories, including manufacturing, assembly, distribution, warehousing, sales, accounting and engineering, among others. The company said the jobs would pay an average of at least $50,000 a year.

Post said the North Brevard Economic Development Zone would be able to “claw back” the incentives from the company if the thresholds are not met.

Dark Storm plans to spend about $1.6 million on construction of the facility and $1.2 million on new capital equipment.
It plans to manufacture small firearms and accessories.

At a previous meeting, Dark Storm co-owner Edward Newman told members of the NBEDZ board that his company manufactures guns targeted to the “upper-middle market.” Its products include AR-15-style rifles.

The company projected $10 million to $20 million in annual sales from the production in Titusville, with 95% of sales made to buyers outside Florida.

Because the total incentives exceed $500,000, Post said the proposal would have to go to the Brevard County Commission for final approval, possibly as early as March 23.

Separately, Post said he expects the company to seek property tax breaks from both Brevard County and Titusville. The amount of those incentive requests is likely to be tied to a formula that takes into account the number of jobs created, the average salary of the jobs and the company’s capital investment.

Post said those requests are likely to come before the Brevard County Commission and the Titusville City Council in April.
The company said it could expand its complex to 45,000 square feet in the future, increasing its staff to 100.

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If Dark Storm moves to Titusville, it would add to a cluster of firearms companies in Brevard County, and would help diversify the Space Coast manufacturing economy beyond aerospace.

Among the other firearms companies already in north and central Brevard are Diamondback Firearms and Kel-Tec, both in Cocoa, and Knight’s Armament Co. in Titusville.

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