Palm Beach County OKs $24 million in bonds with stimulus money to lure cosmetics company, 800 worker


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Palm Beach County commissioners today unanimously approved a $24 million bond issue for a Broward County cosmetics company that wants to build a plant in Palm Springs.

Oxygen Development LLC plans to move from Deerfield Beach and employ up to 800 workers. The money for the bond issue comes from the county’s share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a federal stimulus package approved in February.

Oxygen Development owns 16.5 acres of vacant land at 1525 S. Congress Ave. in Palm Springs, Village Manager Karl Umberger said. It will use the money to build a 300,000-square-foot plant to develop and make skin and hair products.

Oxygen Development head Philippe Cohen told county commissioners that the plant would include 20,000 square feet of lab space. The company makes cosmetics for various brand names, he said.

Moving to Palm Springs would let Cohen build a new plant that’s closer to his workers, Umberger said.

“A lot of his employees actually live in this area, and they’re driving all the way to Deerfield,” Umberger said.

Privately held Oxygen Development hopes to begin construction by the end of the year, Umberger said. The company would employ 350 to 400 employees when it first moves and plans to expand to 750 to 800 workers.

The average salary would be $34,500, according to the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

While many of the jobs would be low-paying, Oxygen Development also employs higher-paid scientists and technicians, Umberger said.

The county approved a Recovery Zone Facility Bond for Oxygen Development. The county received $54 million for the bonds, and this is the first project under the program, said Kevin Johns, the county’s economic development director.