LARGO — Pinellas County commissioners gave conditional approval for funding July 13 to three applications submitted during the first round of funding for the Penny for Pinellas Employment Sites Program.

Teresa Brydon, the county’s business development manager, said four applications were submitted; however, based on scoring evaluations and the projects’ readiness to proceed, only three were being recommended.

Staff will now do its due diligence to ensure the projects comply with program guidelines before final approval is granted.

Commissioners unanimously approved Brooker Creek V LLC, 500 Brooker Creek Blvd. in Oldsmar, which is a 130,000 square foot industrial manufacturing facility. Developer Harrod Properties requested that the county provide $908,500 of the $15 million development costs.

The 11.27 acre site is one of the last undeveloped parcels big enough to accommodate a building greater than 100,000 square feet in the county. The developer expects that the new facility will attract a number of high tech manufacturing and medical manufacturing companies.

The second project, also unanimously approved, was CMNY Transitions LLC on Belcher Road North in Pinellas Park. It is an 86,350 square foot industrial manufacturing facility. Developer CMNY Transitions requested $1.723 million to subsidize the $7.78 million development cost.

The facility, which will be located in the center of the county, will help create higher paying manufacturing jobs and encourage economic activity via ancillary products and services, according to a staff report. Once constructed, it will create a new industrial facility that will be immediately occupied by a manufacturing facility.

The third project prompted a bit of discussion before it was approved 4-1. Commissioner Janet Long voted no and Commissioners Kathleen Peters and Karen Seel were absent.

Florida International University, Department of National Forensic Science Technology Center at 8285 Bryan Dairy Road in Largo had requested $183,655 to pay for a multiuse self-contained Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) within the existing facility.

A SCIF is a U.S. Department of Defense accredited installation where sensitive compartmented information may be stored, used, discussed and/or electronically processed or viewed. DOD and government contractors use a SCIF to look at information specific to their contracts. The county is home to more than 800 defense contractors.

Staff says Florida International University is currently a DOD cleared facility that houses additional DOD contractor companies. One of its customers, United States Special Operations Command headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, has a need for SCIF space in Pinellas to be used as a satellite.

The proposed site formerly housed Raytheon offices, which had a SCIF in the same location. Staff says the communications infrastructure is still present and the building has an uninterruptible power source.

Commissioner Janet Long requested that any decision about funding the SCIF be delayed to allow for an alternative analysis. She said there was a lot more money on the table.

Brydon and other commissioners objected to any delays. Justice said approval of the SCIF didn’t stop any others that might be in the works, to which Long alluded. Commission Rene Flowers pointed that during the pandemic MacDill had been closed down and many contractors had lost access to that SCIF. Brydon said MacDill was still shut down.

Long objects to having an outside firm, SCIF Solutions in Jacksonville, manufacture and install the SCIF. She wants the work with “local people.”

Commissioner Pat Gerard said there was no reason the county couldn’t work on two projects as long as staff made sure it was a completely open process. County Administrator Barry Burton pointed out that staff didn’t even know if the entity Long was talking about was interested.

Opioid settlement

Commissioners approved three items of business July 13 that deal with a proposed settlement with Purdue Pharma related to the opioid epidemic.

Commissioners unanimously agreed to recommend approval of a bankruptcy settlement. They also passed a resolution authorizing the county administrator to make agreements with the state attorney general for the allocation and use of settlement money.

County Attorney Jewel White said the state would make an agreement with the state’s counties which would set the framework for the settlement. She said Pinellas was considered a qualified county to receive proceeds from the settlement, which can be used only for opioid abatement and treatment.

The third item approved was delegation of authority to the county administrator to enter into an interlocal agreement to establish an Opioid Abatement Funding Advisory Board with the cities of Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park.

The interlocal provides guidelines for the acceptance and distribution of potential settlement funding and outlines the roles and responsibilities of the county and the three cities.