Growing technology cluster draws R & D facilities to economical, accessible Tampa Bay region.
» Cott Corporation, one of the world’s largest non-alcoholic beverage companies with operations in 60 countries, opened a 60,000-square-foot global office in 2008, doubling Cott’s Tampa employment to more than 200. The office serves as U.S. headquarters, and its employees work with Cott operations in other countries, including Mexico and the United Kingdom. “We appreciate the assistance offered by the Governor’s office, Enterprise Florida and Hillsborough County, who helped make our new expansion possible,” says Cott CEO Brent Willis.
» Swedish furniture icon Ikea is building a 350,000-square-foot store east of downtown Tampa near Ybor City. “From Mayor Pam Iorio’s office to every official we have worked with, we’re thrilled with the reception we’ve gotten in the city,” says Ikea spokesman Joseph Roth. The project means 500 construction jobs now, with an anticipated 400 new jobs when the store opens in mid-2009.
Tampa Bay’s growing medical products industry contributes $3.4 billion in direct economic output and, at 12,000 workers region-wide, accounts for 26% of Florida’s total medical products industry employment. Some 9,000 Bay area workers are employed in the medical device sector alone.
“The growth of the medical products industry in Tampa Bay has been incredible,” says Geary Havran, president of NDH Medical Inc. and chair of the Florida Medical Manufacturers’ Consortium.
ST. PETERSBURG/ PINELLAS County
SRI Blossoms: SRI, the Silicon Valley-based R&D company that came to Pinellas County in 2006 in order to be near USF’s renowned College of Marine Science, continues to blossom. While plans for construction of its 36,000-square-foot permanent research facility in downtown St. Petersburg proceed, 60 employees are working in temporary offices on projects for Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, NOAA, the National Science Foundation and the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command. Most recently, SRI landed a $36.5-million antiterrorism contract with the U.S. Navy and played a pivotal role in helping to attract the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory to Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Tapping into Incentives
In Clearwater, more than 40 employees at Formulated Solutions’ 34,000-square-foot facility offer pharmaceutical, cosmetic, personal care and specialty chemical products and services.
“Pinellas County Economic Development has been working with us for several years, and introduced us to some cost-saving incentives and redevelopment tools to make this kind of growth possible,” says the firm’s president, Eric Dann. Among those tools: a real estate database which helped the company locate possible expansion sites.
With guidance from local economic developers, Formulated Solutions was able to receive state sales tax exemptions on electricity and steam and machinery and equipment. In addition, the company tapped the state’s Incumbent Worker Training Program to prepare 22 of its employees for advanced manufacturing.
Gateway Boom: The Villages at Gateway Fields — a massive development coming to central Pinellas County in the busy Gateway business district — will mean jobs, affordable housing andnew recreational amenities.
In mid-2008, the Pinellas County Commission approved plans by Florida Gateway Development LLC to create a mixed-use development on a 240-acre site in northeast St. Petersburg. Pending further approvals, the project would include 70 acres of parks and recreation facilities, a 2,113-unit residential village with workforce housing, 375 hotel rooms, 2 million square feet of office space and 1.5 million square feet of retail. Some 11,000 construction jobs and, eventually, 12,000 retail and office jobs are expected to result.
Also in the Gateway district, electronics distributor New Advantage Corporation plans to add more than 300 jobs in coming years and has built a new 70,000-square-foot, $8.5 million office and warehouse facility. Company founder and CEO Johnathan Stanton, who started selling electronics from his house in 1994, expects more than $30 million in annual sales in 2008. Economic development officials from the city of St. Petersburg “helped me meet the right people, go through the right processes,” says Stanton. “I would encourage anybody to call them, and also to call the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. They’ll help you a lot.”
New Advantage Corporation’s recent expansion means more space and new jobs, says Executive VP John Connolly. [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]