Southwest Florida Roundup
Sarasota's county commission votes against Project Mulligan
A Phoenix-based real estate investment trust paid $103.6 million for an Amazon distribution center in Ruskin, representing the largest industrial property sale in the region’s history. Amazon will remain a tenant in the 1. 1-million-sq.-ft. center, previously owned by USAA Real Estate.
Local backlash leads Sarasota County to nix an incentives package for a relocating firm.
Earlier this year, North American Roofing began looking to leave Asheville, N.C., after struggling to attract and retain top executive talent.
The national commercial and industrial roofing company said it needed to be somewhere with a deeper talent pool and business-friendly climate. It identified several relocation options — including Sarasota County.
To lure the headquarters office, Sarasota County and Enterprise Florida put together a $1.6-million incentive package code-named “Project Mulligan.” The package consisted of $1.08 million in state and local tax refunds and $504,000 in county grants tied to job creation. Plans called for North American Roofing — then identified only as a large roofing company — to bring 180 jobs with an average salary of nearly $59,000.
As news of the incentive offer spread, local roofers cried foul, saying it amounted to an unfair edge that would enable the company to recruit qualified office personnel from existing businesses. A no-poaching pledge by the company failed to ease those concerns. In May, the county commission voted 4-1 against Project Mulligan.
Commissioner Christine Robinson, who made the motion against the project, acknowledged the potential for blowback from economic developers and site selectors. “I understand the ramifications are going to be big with Enterprise Florida at this point,” she said. “I wish it wasn’t. But you can’t ignore local businesses in this discussion. They are the lifeblood in our community.”
Two days later, Michael Verble, chairman of North American Roofing — and a longtime resident of Manasota Key — sent commissioners an email saying his employee-owned company would not be coming to Sarasota County.
“It’s too bad that we will now end up relocating our headquarters to a more welcoming, friendlier location that actually values all of the things that our employees do and represent,” Verble wrote. “Thus Sarasota County will lose a great national company with great people. What a shame.”
In August, North American Roofing received $900,000 in state and local incentives to move to Tampa. “Tampa and Hillsborough County aggressively pursued this project once they heard Sarasota made the awful decision to turn away business,” says Rob Sitterley, an Orlando-based site-selection consultant.
CLEARWATER — Alternative fuel company MagneGas received approval from the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $50 million.
HARDEE COUNTY — Mosaic’s Streamsong Resort has started work on its third golf course, which is scheduled to open next fall.
RUSKIN — Miami-based Lennar bought an unfinished waterfront development called Little Harbor for $17 million. It plans to build homes ranging from $400,000 to $700,000.
SARASOTA COUNTY — Tax software company Vertex will lay off 100 workers by the end of this year. » The Florida Department of Health approved Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s request to become a Level II trauma center.
ST. PETERSBURG — C1 Bank CEO Trevor Burgess unexpectedly resigned following the sale of C1 to Bank of the Ozarks. » Raymond James Financial entered the Fortune 500 ranking of the biggest companies in the U.S. at no. 482, joining Clearwater’s Tech Data (108) and St. Petersburg’s Jabil Circuit (158). » Communications Sales & Leasing of Little Rock, Ark., acquired St. Petersburg-based Tower Cloud for $230 million. Founded in 2006, Tower Cloud helps wireless carriers and other customers upgrade their communications infrastructure. » Phillips Development & Realty of Tampa plans to develop 250 apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail space on a vacant nine-acre site in south St. Petersburg near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
TAMPA — The Tampa Housing Authority selected a joint venture of Miami’s Related Group and Urban Development Group to redevelop nearly 200 acres in West Tampa. » Frontier Communications signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. » Soho Capital unveiled redevelopment plans for the Heights, a 43- acre riverfront parcel north of downtown. The first phase calls for transforming the Armature Works building into a market, co-working space, two restaurants and an event hall. » Tampa’s Giunta Group will develop a 150-room hotel in the Westshore business district. » Tampa-based Bloomin’ Brands plans to open 26 Outback Steakhouse and Abbraccio restaurants in the Middle East in the next five years. » The Florida Board of Governors designated the University of South Florida as “emerging pre-eminent,” providing millions of dollars in new funding.
TAMPA BAY — The Brookings Institution in Washington, D. C., chose the Tampa Bay region for its Global Cities Initiative, aimed at helping regional economic development groups create strategies to attract foreign investment. » A Tampa Bay partnership received a $3.8-million grant from the federal government to expand local worker training programs for technology jobs. Local participants include CareerSource Tampa Bay, University Area Community Development Corp., Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Technology Forum and the Tampa Innovation Alliance.
» Tampa-based software company Nitro Mobile Solutions hired financial services veteran George Hall as COO.
» Carol Jenkins Barnett resigned from the board of Publix, citing a diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Barnett, 59, is the daughter of Publix founder George Jenkins.
» John Ramil retired as president and CEO of TECO Energy following the Tampa utility’s acquisition by Nova Scotia-based Emera.
» Former Florida Chief Deputy Attorney General Tyler Cathey joined Franklin Street in Tampa as COO and general counsel.