Economic Yearbook 2008
TAMPA BAY: Battling a Misperception
As she recruits businesses to Pasco County, Mary Jane Stanley, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, keeps hearing company representatives say they want to wait until after the November presidential election before making any major decisions. “They want to see what’s going to happen with the national economy,” she says. Overall, she says, Pasco’s economy is strong. Housing is down, but other sectors are up. “We’ve got three megamalls under construction right now,” she says. “There’s a lot of expansion. There’s a lot of construction still going on.”
Pasco County commissioners have approved plans for a $7.9-million, 5,000-seat Pasco Tennis Stadium to be built near the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel.
» W. Stewart Gibbons, vice president and general manager of Terrabrook, the real estate firm developing the new town of Connerton in Pasco County, expects challenging times into 2009. He thinks businesses must pay “keen attention” to the fundamentals to thrive. “We’re building a $7-million recreational complex in Connerton that we stated in the fourth quarter of last year, and we plan to open by the middle of this year. That’s a huge commitment in these times.”
Anything housing-related is suffering, but “manufacturing is not in the doldrums,” says Michael McHugh, director Hernando County Office of Business Development. “We had like nine major business expansions last year and nine or 10 relocations.” He thinks the federal economic stimulus plan will help: “Hopefully, it will spur people to invest in their businesses.”
» Business growth and expansion is still possible despite the shaky economy, says John Petrick, president of Brooksville’s American Aviation, a growing business that repairs, refurbishes, charters and sells small aircraft. “I know the economy isn’t rosy for a lot of people right now, but I’m not pessimistic.”
Randy Welker, the Citrus County Economic Development Council’s executive director, is confident the county will attract high-tech industry and high-paying jobs. It just might not happen this year. “Our economy was built on home building and growth, and there is none,” he says. “The economy is hurting. Now, the other side of it is we have several new projects that are starting that are both governmental and energy-related. If we can get through this next year and a half, we’ll be fine.”
» Terry Atchley, executive vice president of Clear Springs, a development and agribusiness company, says the Bartow-based firm is bringing a new industry to Citrus County: Integrated Alligator Industries will raise the animals, process the hides and create high-end wallets, belts, purses and other products. Set to open in May, the plant will employ 15 with plans for 50 more.
» Jeffrey Lyash, president and CEO of Progress Energy Florida, is overseeing a $1-billion project to install emission-reducing scrubbers at two of Progress’ four Crystal River coal-fired plants. The company is also moving forward on plans to build a nuclear plant just across the border in Levy County.