City suing businesses tied to Councilwoman Katrina Brown

Businesses granted over $210,000 to create jobs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4Jax has learned that the city of Jacksonville is suing a family business tied to Councilwoman Katrina Brown.

The city says COWEALTH LLC didn't create the jobs it said it would under a grant agreement it signed with the city. The city then sent letters demanding the company repay the $210,000 grant, which the company has not yet fully done.

Now, the city has taken the matter to court.

The family business, which is a barbeque sauce manufacturing plant, is also under investigation by the federal government. In December, FBI agents were seen taking boxes and other evidence from the Westside plant.

A letter, dated June 24 and addressed to JoAnn Brown, Katrina Brown’s mother, and COWEALTH LLC, stated that the company needed to pay $210,549.99 within 15 days. According to state records, JoAnn Brown 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.

Part of that grant money included federal dollars from the Small Business Administration.

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 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.

According to city officials, any jobs created by the restaurant will not count as part of its agreement.