By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

The first privately funded stand-alone structure may soon arrive in Osceola County’s NeoCity district if local government officials can seal the deal in upcoming weeks.

It’s the only private company to show serious interest in investing its own money into the 500-acre high-tech corridor since county-recruiting efforts began last year.

County commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the company, referred to by the alias “Project Villach,” on July 16.

The company is looking to build a 20,000 square-foot research and development “innovation center” from the ground up along NeoCity’s lakefront, according to the MOU. Project Villach won’t serve as a manufacturing or commercial site if the deal goes through.

County officials said they are excited about the latest development in the growth of NeoCity.

“Many people at the county have been focused on NeoCity and attracting new businesses to it for some time,” said Osceola County Public Information Officer Mark Pino.

Appreciation on behalf of the county – which has already invested about $200 million into NeoCity – was shown by way of major tax breaks and other incentives for Project Villach.

The county would gift the company a 5-acre site with direct lakefront access, according to initial terms in the MOU. Project Villach could then expand the site up to 15 acres over time.

The company is also looking to benefit from a $50,000 county reimbursement for specialized manufacturing equipment purchased for the new facility.

A fast-track county permitting process is also on the table along with building inspectors available seven days a week.

Pino said incentives are determined on a case-by-case basis for each potential project.

Details on what exactly Project Villach is looking to create are sparse in the MOU, describing the company only as “testing self-propelled recreational marine vessels.”

How much money Project Villach is willing to invest is unclear.

The MOU describes the company contribution to NeoCity as “significant” and states that the facility would employ an unspecified number of high-wage tech workers.

The initial terms were not on the commission’s published agenda, but instead added as a consent item at the beginning of the meeting.

The MOU isn’t a business contract and Project Villach hasn’t agreed to anything just yet. The document approved on July 16 simply gives County Manager Don Fisher about six weeks to negotiate a formal agreement with the company with an outlined plan of what local government is willing

to offer if the company

signs on.