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Job gains in Tampa Bay

Hire and higher

Between August 2012 and August 2013, Hillsborough County gained more than 24,000 jobs. During that time, the county’s unemployment rate fell from 8. 8% to 6.7% — and that’s before the string of major job-related announcements that came later in the year: USAA: In November, financial services provider USAA announced it would build a $164.3-million, 420,000-sq.-ft. facility in Brandon and create 1,215 jobs by 2019.

Amazon: In October, Amazon said it plans to employ 1,000 at a planned 1.1-million-sq.-ft., $200-million fulfillment center near Ruskin.

HealthPlan Services: In September, HealthPlan Services said it will invest $34 million to expand its Tampa facilities and create 1,000 jobs by 2018.

New York Life: In August, the insurance company announced it will add up to 300 employees within three years in Tampa, where the company already employs 900.

Bristol-Myers Squibb: Also, in mid-July, the drugmaker unveiled plans to open a 70,000-sq.-ft. facility in Tampa, where it will employ 250 this year and 575 by 2017.

County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan says the county’s job growth is reaching “heights we’ve never had before.”

He credits the county’s job incentives program and a coordinated effort between local governments, economic development groups and other entities, including the Tampa Port and Tampa International Airport.

“I think that’s the primary reason we’ve enjoyed one home run after another,” Hagan says. “This is my 11th year on the board, and the spirit of collaboration and cooperation has never been stronger than it is right now.”

Amazon is planning to build a 1. 1-million-sq.-ft., $200-million fulfillment center near Ruskin.

OBITUARY: U. S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young

A little more than a week after announcing that his declining health would keep him from running for a 23rd term representing Florida’s 13th congressional district, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young of Pinellas County died on Oct. 18. He was 82. Young, best known for his work in support of military troops and veterans and securing money for Tampa Bay-area projects, had been the longest-serving Republican in Congress. Voters will choose his replacement March 11. Candidates include Democrat Alex Sink, who had to move from Hillsborough County to Pinellas County to qualify, and Republicans David Jolly, a lobbyist and former member of Young’s legal staff, and state Rep. Kathleen Peters.

PROFILE: Ex-IT Technologies

Naples-based Ex-IT Technologies steps in when other companies want to get rid of old IT equipment. Ex-IT buys old hardware, refurbishes it and then sells it to other businesses. The company employs 16, up from four in 2008, when the company was called SMS Memory Module Assembly. Revenue is also up: $3.6 million in 2013, a 24% increase from the prior year.


CLEARWATER — Electronics distributor Tech Data plans to build a 45,000-sq.-fit. building adjacent to its current headquarters. The company employs 1,700 at its Pinellas County campus.

FORT MYERS — 734 Agriculture, a New Yorkbased investment firm, is spending $138 million to purchase a majority ownership of Alico, which owns 130,400 acres in Lee, Collier, Polk, Glades, Hendry and Alachua counties. The transaction means Alico CEO J.D. Alexander will be replaced by Clay G. Wilson. >> White House Black Market, a clothing chain owned by Chico’s FAS, expanded into Canada, opening a boutique in Toronto. >> Florida Gulf Coast University’s Small Business Development Center added three business consultants to its staff.

LAKELAND — Publix Super Markets is selling Pix, the supermarket chain’s foray into convenience stores. Publix, which started testing the convenience store concept in 2001, will sell 13 of the 14 Pix stores to Circle K. The remaining store, located in Tennessee, is being sold to Max Arnold & Sons.

PASCO COUNTY — The county has started work on a 500-million gallon reclaimed water reservoir east of Interstate 75. The cost of the project, scheduled to be completed next year, is estimated at $36 million. The small town of Aripeka, located on the Hernando county line, will get its post office back just two months after the U.S. Postal Service closed the facility.

PLANT CITY — Canadabased Walton International Group has purchased 1,000 acres northeast of the city for $18.1 million. The company plans to develop a residential project on the site, which is already approved for up to 2,500 single-family homes. >> Dart Container, which makes foam cups, announced plans to build a $14-million 400,000-sq.-fit. warehouse in Plant City, where the company already employs 230 at a 480,000-sq.-fit. manufacturing facility.

ST. PETERSBURG — HSN cut 59 jobs as part of a restructuring. >> Rudy ciccarello, founder of Florida Infusion Services, plans to build a museum downtown where he would house his collection of arts and crafts furniture, pottery, ceramic tiles, metalwork, woodblocks, art, lighting, textiles and stained glass. He estimates the 90,000-sq.- ft. Museum will cost at least $35 million to build.

The Blue Ocean Film Festival announced it will relocate from California to St. Petersburg. The environmental documentary film event typically attracts 20,000 people. This year’s festival will be in November at the Muvico theater complex downtown.

TAMPA — The Port of Tampa has opened its $55-million petroleum terminal, where ships will unload fuel, oil and anhydrous ammonia. The Element, a 35-story apartment tower downtown, has sold for $98 million.

TAMPA BAY — Phosphate company Mosaic is expanding its Florida operations. It is spending $1.4 billion to purchase CF Industries’ phosphate business, which includes a Hardee County mine, a phosphate complex in Plant City and ammonia and phosphate facilities at the Port of Tampa.

WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco- Hernando Community College has opened its 60-acre Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch, featuring 10 classrooms, four computer labs, four science labs, eight health labs and a library.


Humana appointed John Barger regional market president for the company’s central Florida Medicare market. Barger has worked for Humana for 17 years in a variety of management roles. >> Adria D. Starkey is FineMark National Bank & Trust’s new Collier County president. She had been COO of the Sanibel Captiva Trust Co. >> Mark Miller has been named COO at Largo Medical Center. He was previously COO at Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg and has also been an administrative fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.