In February 2013, the Flagler County Commission approved its $50,000 portion of a $548,800 economic incentive package for a technology startup called Coastal Cloud.
Those performance-based incentives were contingent on the company’s owners, Tim and Sara Hale, making good on their pledge to create 100 jobs in Flagler County within three years. On Feb. 26, the company marked its second anniversary with a small celebration at its headquarters at 1 Hammock Beach Parkway in Palm Coast. Coastal Cloud today employs 65 workers, including 35 in Palm Coast, The rest are scattered throughout the country, some as far away as Hawaii.
The average annual wage of the company’s employees, according to Tim Hale, exceeds $60,000. Coastal Cloud is a provider of cloud-based — i.e., Internet — software services that help clients manage their customer databases as well as other tasks. While much ado was made two years ago about the economic incentives the county and state agreed to offer Coastal Cloud, Tim Hale said he and his wife ultimately decided to not accept them. The reason, he said, was because “they were more appropriate for a capital-intensive business, which we are not. Our business, it’s really people — it’s not a bunch of buildings and machinery."
Tim Hale recently spoke with The News-Journal:
Was the incentive package important to your company, even though you and your wife elected to forgo it?
It was because it demonstrated support from the community.
Two years ago, you and your wife said you intended to build a 30,000-square-foot facility in Flagler Beach. yet your company today is in a leased office space in Palm Coast. What’s become of that plan?
We have procured the land but we have not yet begun construction. It’s in Flagler Beach, on Ninth Street South, right on A1A, on the southern boundary of (Flagler Beach’s) community redevelopment area.
Have you set a date for breaking ground? When do you hope to move in?
We don’t have a time-line yet (for beginning construction). I would say sometime in 2016 is our target (completing the building).
Your website describes your workforce as “100 percent Salesforce.com-certified,” meaning that you use software developed by San Francisco-based Safesforce.com. Exactly what does Coastal Cloud do?
We customize (Salesforce.com’s software) to our clients’ needs. We work with our customers to understand what types of business problems they’re trying to solve. Then we customize the software, we migrate their old system data and we train their employees on how to use the new system. Our employees are technology consultants.
Do you have a hiring target for the coming year?
We hope to achieve our goal of reaching 100 employees by next February, including probably 65 here and 35 (in other locations).
You and your wife both worked at national consulting firm Accenture in Washington, D.C., back in the 1990s. Is that where you met? When did you move to Flagler County and what brought you here?
Yes. We were married in 1999 and we moved here in 2008. We bought land in Flagler County in 2004 in the Hammock Beach area (where the couple now live). We were originally drawn here by (the area’s) the quality of life at good value. We discovered it through a friend, a business associate in Washington, D.C. We’re boaters so we like the combination of the beach, the intracoastal waterway, the golf and the tennis. etc. We have three young children.
Your company now has 83 clients. Can you name a couple?
We’re building a system now that tracks bear and alligator incidents across the state for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, We’re also doing work for CareerSource Florida, We’ve rolled out CRM (customer relationship management) software for CareerSource in every county in the state.
Any advice to offer other tech companies considering Flagler County?
Technology people, we can work anywhere we want. All we need is an Internet connection. What’s unique here is a fabulous quality of life, an affordable cost of living and excellent infrastructure in terms of Internet access, reliable power and a beautiful setting, not to mention a supportive community. I believe we have the potential to be an innovative technology beach scene that’s unique in the country.