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Delray targets Aldridge law firm with cash incentives

By Palm Beach

DELRAY BEACH — The first recipient of Delray’s brand new job creation incentive program is likely to be an Atlanta-based law firm that specializes in handling mortgage foreclosure cases for banks.

On Tuesday, Delray Beach city commissioners authorized Vin Nolan, the city’s economic development director, to negotiate terms of a deal to entice the Aldridge Connors law firm to move to office 40,000 square feet of class A office space on Congress Avenue. The city could pay the firm as much as $1,000 per job for the 250 employees — a cool quarter million dollars —it promises to bring with it.

The law firm now has its Florida office a few miles to the south on Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton, where it employs a legal staff of 180.

“I think this is a great first step,” Mayor Tom Carney said during the meeting.

Said Commissioner Angeleta Gray: “This is what we’ve been looking for — jobs, jobs jobs.

Commissioners created the job incentive program last fall as a means of attracting and in some cases retaining companies that provide “high-paying” jobs.  High paying is defined as jobs that average at least as much as the county’s median income of $46,000 a year.

The cash incentive a prospective employer may receive may vary between $750 and $1,000 a job at the discretion of commissioners. Nolan said he will negotiate that number, along with other details of a deal, including the length of the payout and a so-called clawback if Aldridge Connors fails to create the agreed-upon number of jobs or decides to move out of the city.

In other words, prevent another Digital Domain, the high-tech animation studio that became the poster child for bad economic development deals when it received nearly $8 million in cash, plus a $40 million building as incentives from Port St. Lucie to set up shop in that city before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Nolan called Aldridge Connors “our first great potential success.

Aldridge Connors is an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in processing mortgage foreclosure suits for banks, and moved south into Florida several years ago when the great robo-signing scandal broke open and sunk the in-state law firms that were handling the bulk of the foreclosure cases.

Some of the Atlanta jobs could be heading south as well, although Carney was hopeful that some local hiring would take place as well.

The law firm is looking to sign a lease within a few weeks.


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