by Janet Ware
Updated 2 months ago
Tampa / Hillsborough County
Hillsborough's economic developers have much to cheer.The list of companies announcing expansions or relocations in 2013 and the jobs they represent include: Bristol-Myers Squibb, opening its 70,000-sq.-ft. North America Capability Center with 250 employees and plans to add up to 325 more by 2017; HealthPlan Services, expanding its headquarters and creating 1,000- plus jobs by 2018; USAA (United Services Automobile Association) investing $164.3 million to grow local operations and add 1,215 jobs by 2019; ConnectWise planning to hire 112; and Amazon, planning to build a fulfillment center in Ruskin with the promise of 1,000 jobs.
Other trends include an improving real estate market — more than 34,000 single-family homes sold across the region in 2013, an 8% increase over 2012 sales and the most since 2005 —And the unprecedented opportunity for worldwide recognition as Tampa becomes the first-ever U.S. city to host the "Bollywood Oscars" before 35,000 at Raymond James Stadium and 800 million via television.
Covidien: The medical device manufacturer's decision to open a 62,000-sq.-ft. production facility in Riverview this year represents an $18-million investment and 165 New jobs. The publicly held company, headquartered in Dublin, reported net sales of $10.24 billion in fiscal year 2013, up 4% from the previous year.
Dart Container: Spurred by its acquisition of Solo Cup Co.In 2012, Dart, the world's largest manufacturer of foam cups and a Plant City fixture since 1983, will spend $14 million to construct a 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution center that is expected to generate 24 new jobs.
USF Health Heart Institute: Construction began in December on the five-story facility at the center of University of South Florida's health campus in Tampa aimed at combining advanced research with cutting-edge cardiovascular care.
Port of Tampa: The port has a new name — Port Tampa Bay — to better reflect its market across the six-county Tampa Bay region.
Tampa International Airport: The airport will begin construction later this year on the first leg of a plan to expand and modernize its facilities; included in the $1 billion allocated for initial work are the main terminal expansion and a consolidated rental car facility linked to the main terminal by a 1.3-mile automated people mover.
BlueGrace Logistics: Ranked No. 20 on the "2012 Inc. 5000 List" of fastest-growing U.S. companies, BlueGrace continues to grow, adding 55 jobs at its Riverview headquarters in 2014.
James Hardie Building Products: The company will invest $80 million in new machinery and additional manufacturing space and create 100 jobs to accommodate increased demand for its fiber cement siding products now that home construction is on the rise.
St. Petersburg / Pinellas County
Tourism continues as an economic driver for Pinellas, which collected a record $31.8 million in bed taxes last year.Officials credit more focused advertising. The success has won Pinellas state designation as a "high tourism impact" area, enabling the county to raise its bed tax from 5% to 6%. In November, Pinellas will vote on a 1% increase to the countywide sales tax to pay for enhanced bus service and light rail connecting St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
In St. Petersburg, new Mayor Rick Kriseman says he's Focused on creating jobs and eliminating red tape for small businesses. Among the challenges: Revitalizing St. Pete's waterfront, including a new pier; ending the stalemate with the Tampa Bay Rays over a new stadium; and capitalizing on the burgeoning health, high-tech and marine science corridor anchored by USF St. Petersburg, SRI and All Children's Hospital just south of downtown.
Construction is nearly complete on Sundial, the downtown retail complex formerly known as BayWalk.Owner Bill Edwards has promised upscale stores and restaurants at the rebuilt complex but has yet to reveal the names of any new tenants or opening dates.
Jabil Circuit: While Jabil remains largely an electronics firm, nearly one-third of its business is non-electronic, thanks in part to the purchase of precision plastics manufacturer Nypro in 2013; Jabil is said to be considering moving its headquarters to downtown St. Petersburg.
All Children's Hospital: The hospital continues to acquire land in downtown St. Petersburg for future growth: 1.5 acres from the city in August for an office tower and another two acres from the state in January for a research center; construction plans remain indefinite.
Pods Enterprises: The addition of 324 to its staff in 2013 prompted Pods Enterprises to relocate its headquarters from One Clearwater site to another with 40 new jobs expected.
Triad Retail Media: The creator / manager of online programs for high traffic e-commerce websites recorded a 143% increase in sales over three years and moved its headquarters from Tampa's Westshore district to Carillon in St. Petersburg.
IDatix: Named to GrowFL's list of "2013 Florida Companies to Watch," software firm iDatix has opened a headquarters in Clearwater, increasing its space from 7,500 square feet to 26,000 square feet.
Lakeland / Polk County
Real estate and construction are on the rebound. A total of 5,851 existing homes sold across Polk in 2013, the highest since 2005 and up 12% from 2012. At $130,000, December's median home price topped 2012's by 13%. By December, 1,776 single-family home permits had been issued, the county's highest since 2008 when 2,226 permits were recorded.
Increased business activity across many sectors last year generated close to 800 new jobs countywide, and more are on the way as Polk continues positioning itself as a logistics and distribution hub. Recent arrivals include an O'Reilly Auto Parts distribution center, which opened in January with 160 hires, and Communications Test Design's new test and repair facility in Davenport, where 200 jobs are planned. Fueling further economic growth is Amazon's planned fulfillment center in Lakeland that is expected to create 385 jobs, two-thirds of which will be full time positions, and two grand openings — the Winter Haven Rail Terminal in April and Florida Polytechnic University in August.
Florida Polytechnic University: Created by the Florida Legislature in 2012, Florida's 12th public university is on track to welcome its inaugural class on Aug. 25. A new admissions building was opened on the Lakeland campus in December 2013; slated for completion this summer is the $60-million Innovation, Science and Technology Building designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Pasco has put business incubators on the front burner of its economic development initiatives, says Pasco Economic Development Council President and CEO John Hagen. Now that the Dade City SMARTstart incubator, which launched in fall 2013, is filled and considering expansion, Hagen is working with New Port Richey to get a second incubator off The ground. The move, he says, is not just about providing creative businesses and technology startups with inexpensive space."We think of incubators as business development systems," says Hagen."We're supplying the initial space, yes. But as they grow, the cost to stay in the incubator goes up and eventually they graduate to commercial space. We're growing companies, and we're growing employment."
The Citrus County Economic Development Council is moving ahead with recommendations from a five-year strategic plan completed in December."Basically, we're retooling our economic development," says Executive Director Don Taylor, "rebranding to attract new industries and retain the ones we have." Although the plan identifies 10 target industries, Taylor says initial emphasis will be on two: Light manufacturing and tourism.On the Citrus wish list is extension of the Suncoast Parkway. Says Taylor, "Good transportation is vital to economic growth.We'd like to see it extended into Citrus."
Since officially assuming the additional responsibilities of economic development director in January, Hernando County administrator Len Sossamon is developing strategies for business growth. First on his agenda: Appointing a business development council made up of local business representatives. "We'll be looking at industries focused on creativity and innovation," he says.
Sossamon believes that bringing high tech, high-paying jobs to the county will benefit all economic sectors and cites the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport as a draw. "We have 2,500 acres of land around the airport that is zoned and ready for development."