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Lee County VR Labs doing fine, CEO says

Sep. 28, 2012
Lee County Commissioner John Manning discusses VR ...
Lee County Commissioner John Manning discusses VR ...: Commission Chairman John Manning talks about VR Labs, saying he is satisfied that the Bonita Springs-based company is complying with a jobs agreement with the county.


VR Labs is in good financial shape and will resolve its disputes with business partners, VR CEO Jeff Kottkamp said Thursday after meeting with Lee County’s commission chairman.

The Bonita Springs-based company, which would sell high-tech health drinks, has spent $4.7 million of a $5 million county grant intended to spur job growth. But the venture has stalled amidst disputes with an equipment vendor, subcontractors, the general contractor and the landlord, Alico Road Business Park.

Commission Chairman John Manning asked Kottkamp and VR director Robert Gow to meet with him after County Attorney Michael Hunt sent Kottkamp a letter last week asking for more documentation related to the company’s Aug. 15 progress report.

Under the terms of the grant, VR is required to create 208 high-paying jobs and make at least $16,413,370 in capital expenditures by the end of 2015.

After the meeting, Manning said that “I feel much better now than I did a few days ago. It’s a private matter and they’ve retained counsel and they’re very committed to Lee County.”

Hunt’s letter asked for payroll records and invoices to more fully show VR’s progress. A review of the Aug. 15 report “does not include sufficient supporting documentation to verify the number of employees and wages.”

A lawsuit filed by general contractor GCM Contracting Solutions against bottling equipment subcontractor John Williams and VR Chief Administrative Officer Kay Gow to recover $750,000 owed to subcontractors is seeking some of those same records.

Hunt’s letter also asks for documentation for capital expenditures made by VR “other than the incentive awards disbursed by the county.”

Manning said that “I’ve been assured by (Robert) Gow and Jeff Kottkamp that this issue will resolve itself and the county will be made whole hopefully in the near future.”

Kottkamp said of the county attorney’s inquiry that “Of course we’ve spent some of our own money, and we’ll continue.” He said every single penny of the county money has been accounted for.

The company is solid, he said. “We’re a very real company, one that has invested in this county.”

Kottkamp couldn’t give a date, but said “we will be operational as soon as we possibly can.”

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