A reliable workforce and reasonable costs draw key sector industries to Tampa Bay.
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Nearly 4 million residents, a labor force exceeding 1.9 million and the presence of some 150,000 businesses give Florida's Tampa Bay region significant economic clout. Here, where residents enjoy both a sunny lifestyle and a robust economy, the combined forces of ongoing government cooperation, workforce excellence, educational opportunity, superior transportation and reasonable business costs are helping to ensure exponential growth among both established and emerging businesses in key economic sectors.
"Our employment growth and our economic vitality have been strong and continue to be so," says Stuart Rogel, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership economic development group.
This cycle of ongoing success means the area is a top-tier choice for life sciences, financial and professional services, information technology, manufacturing, marine technology, defense and aviation industries.
Key sector growth
The area's reliable labor force was a prime consideration for Countrywide Home Loans, the mortgagebanking arm of residential lending giant Countrywide Financial Corp., when it chose Tampa West Industrial Park for its new financial services center.
|Facts & Figures|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Demographics USA 2005, TradeDimensions International Inc.; Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. EBI = effective buying/disposable income.
"We have found a dynamic and friendly business climate, a booming financial services industry, a skilled workforce and a prime location that meets our needs," says Angelo Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial. The company's investment of $20 million in a campus that includes two buildings and 230,000 square feet will mean 1,000 new mortgage processing and IT jobs for the region.
Other Bay Area financial services firms include MetLife, Progressive Insurance, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, St. Petersburgbased Raymond James, State Farm and Depository Trust and Clearing Corp. Accounting and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers plans to add more than 300 employees in Tampa by 2008, bringing its total employment to 2,000.
MetLife is also expanding, constructing a 115,000-square-foot, four-story office building at Highwoods Preserve in Hillsborough County. This is in addition to two 150,000-square-foot of- fice buildings MetLife bought in the same area recently. MetLife will hire about 150 more workers, bringing its staff to around 1,700 in the region.
IT growth in Hillsborough includes Quadrant Software, which in early 2006 broke ground for a $2 million, 10,000-square-foot office headquarters in Temple Terrace. The 60-employee company, lured from Boston partly by the state's Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund incentive, expects to create 25 new jobs.
Medical technology and life sciences make up 8% of workplaces and 11% of area employment. Tampa Bay leads Florida by employing 31% of the state's medical device manufacturing workers, including employees at Micron PharmaWorks in Pasco County.
PharmaWorks makes automated blister package machinery for pharmaceutical giants like Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Pfizer and is expanding from 26 to 40 employees at its new 19,700-squarefoot facility in the West Pasco Industrial Park. Such growth will continue, says Rogel. "In the coming year, we'll see some really significant growth in the healthcare and life sciences fields."
A driving force is the decade-old Florida High Tech Corridor Council. The corridor stretches eastwest along I-275 and I-4 from St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach, and northsouth from Gainesville to Sebring. Since 1996, the Council has supported the service areas of the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida. In 2005, the Council welcomed the University of Florida, thus merging the strengths of three world-class universities.
Today, 23 counties benefit from Council efforts to boost funding programs and workforce development.