LowT Gimenez recommends his own son's $5 MILLION subsidy to Miami-Dade Commissioners

Miami Herald:

Steel mill with mayor’s son as an owner on track for $5 million Miami-Dade subsidy

  • Gimenez (who "recused" himself in 2017) now recommends his son's $5 MILLION subsidy
    • If approved by Miami-Dade commissioners next week, the incentive package could be the largest of its kind awarded under Gimenez, who took office in 2011.
  • So the largest and most of it's kind and for his son...     $_$    

The administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez is recommending county commissioners approve a $5 million subsidy package for a $224 million steel mill proposed for the Homestead area by a company partially owned by one of the mayor’s sons. 

Linked to future hiring, the money for the “micro” mill would be paid out over 10 years if the Esteel facility meets hiring and investment requirements included in the county agreement. The county program is available to all businesses either expanding or moving to Miami-Dade, but applications can be rejected by the administration or County Commission.

Gimenez formally recused himself in 2017 when son Julio Gimenez began pursuing a county-owned site for the factory, which would use electric-powered machinery to convert scrap metal into rebar and other raw building materials. The recommendation for the $4.9 million incentive package released Thursday night came from Jack Osterholt, one of four deputy mayors under Gimenez.

If approved by Miami-Dade commissioners next week, the incentive package could be the largest of its kind awarded under Gimenez, who took office in 2011.

A list of awards from the county’s Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund provided by the county’s budget office shows the proposed $4.9 million package the largest of any of the other 15 on the list, which has projects from 2011 to 2019 that are scheduled for payments sometime before 2035. It’s not known if past awards that are no longer set for future payments were higher. The Beacon Council, the non-profit that handles economic-development incentives for Miami-Dade, declined to comment Friday. 

In May, commissioners approved selling the county-owned site to the steel venture for $16.8 million. It’s land outside the Homestead Air Reserve Base that’s sat idle for years. Miami-Dade has been offering it up for economic-development proposals in recent years. 

The steel-mill vote prompted a debate on the commission on the wisdom of banning relatives of elected officials from doing business with Miami-Dade, but board members rejected that proposal by Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a 2020 candidate for mayor.

Miami-Dade’s Ethics Commission endorsed the younger Gimenez pursuing county land, saying county rules “allow you to transact and enter into a contract ... with Miami-Dade County, as long as the contract does not interfere with the full and faithful discharge of your father’s duties to the County.”

Osterholt said Friday the incentive package for Esteel was generated by the calculations required by the county ordinance for the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund. 

The program is based on the premise that applicants would not bring companies to Miami-Dade without the subsidy, so the property taxes generated by the new business wouldn’t exist without incentives. The fund pays back a portion of the property taxes paid, still resulting in what the county describes as a net profit to the government. 

“It’s a formula based on how many people they’re going to hire and how much they’re going to spend,” Osterholt said. “It’s predicated on jobs.” 

In its application, the Esteel group, which had applied for the county land as Ecosteel, said it would create 180 new jobs with an average pay of about $49,000 a year. The $224 million price tag for the project includes $17 million for the land, $100 million for construction and about $93 million in equipment purchases, according to the Esteel application.

Julio Gimenez, a construction executive, paired with Leroy Jones, a longtime county vendor, to lobby for the steel project, which is sponsored by Commissioner Dennis Moss, who represents the Homestead area. 

The steel group has pledged to train local residents for the “green” steel jobs at the mill, and the nonprofit that Jones leads, the Neighbors and Neighbors Association, runs a county-funded vocational training program already. 

Jones and Julio Gimenez are also pursuing county land for a separate project: a halfway house that would serve inmates released from the county’s Boot Camp youth-offender program.

The application shows Julio Gimenez holds a 23 percent share in the company. Shana Cox, a Miami social worker, holds a 25-percent share. Gustavo Lopez, who described himself as a global steel-mill investor, owns 52 percent. 

Julio Gimenez and Lopez did not respond to requests for comment, and Jones declined to answer questions, citing a family emergency. No contact information was available for Cox.

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