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Deadline passes for company linked to council member to repay $210K to city

City of Jacksonville threatens lawsuit over economic development grant

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville's Office of Economic Development said Monday's deadline for a company linked to City Councilwoman Katrina Brown to repay a redevelopment grant passed without payment, but the company did submit a plan for reimbursement.

The city had said it could sue the company if $210,549.99 was not repaid. The city said the reimbursement plan was being considered.

READ: Reimbursement proposal to city

A June 24 letter, addressed to JoAnn Brown and COWEALTH LLC, states that the company needs to repay the city within 15 days. According to state records, JoAnn Brown, who is Katrina Brown’s mother, is the registered agent of COWEALTH LLC, and an officer of the company. Katrina Brown, elected to represent District 8 in 2015, is also listed as an officer.

READ: City letter demanding payment | City letter advising grant default

According to the letter, the company agreed to create 56 new jobs on or before April 30, 2016, as part of its agreement for a Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund grant, but has failed to do so. The agreement also called for the company to submit annual reports regarding job creation, which the letter states also has not happened. The grant was to help the company launch a manufacturing facility to produce a wide range of products, including Jerome Brown's BBQ Sauce.

The Brown family also owns a barbecue restaurant, Jerome Barbeque and Wings.

WATCH: News4Jax asks Katrina Brown about grant money

Katrina Brown provided a statement to the I-TEAM last month, which reads in part, "We intend to fully comply with our obligation and will initiate dialogue with the City to renegotiate the terms that are set forth and takes into account the current number of jobs that have been created thus far and those that were previously agreed upon."

READ: Full statement from Katrina Brown

The family business also owes more than $22,000 in back taxes from 2015 for the manufacturing facility on Commonwealth Avenue, according to Duval County property records.

The I-TEAM also found a lawsuit filed last month by The Jacksonville Bank, suing the Browns for failing to make payments on a loan.

READ: Lawsuit against KJB Specialties

The Office of Inspector General confirmed that it had opened a preliminary review of Brown after receiving a complaint. It couldn’t say what that complaint was about, which is common practice. The purpose of the review is to determine if an investigation is warranted.


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