Landing Time Warner 500 jobs deal opens big door for Florida to tell others to 'Come on down'
Gov. Rick Scott speaks at a news conference at the Florida state Capitol in Tallahassee as Time Warner Chief Financial and Administrative Officer John Martin listens Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. (AP photo)
Wake up and good morning. Woohoo. Great news that Time Warner chose to bring 500 jobs "paying north of $50,000" (translation: $57,000) in the coming years to Tampa Bay and, specifically Hillsborough/Tampa/Temple Terrace (exact location to be decided later). Kudos to all. Here's the St. Petersburg Times story.
But here's my favorite headline on the coverage: Tampa beats Atlanta in bid for 500 Time Warner jobs.
That's the online headline from the Atlanta newspaper, the Journal Constitution. Says the Atlanta story: "It’s a big loss for economic developers in metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia, who fought hard to attract the new shared services division... That’s an even bigger loss to the region’s jobless. In August, Georgia’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in six months, rising to 10.2 percent. It was the 49th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent."
Yes, well, sorry about that, Atlanta. Pardon us, Georgia. Your state jobless rate may be 10.2 percent but Florida's is 10.7 percent and Tampa Bay's is higher at 11 percent. We'll gladly take the Time Warner jobs this time.
Time Warner says it looked at 59 potential places to put its 500 jobs, including Tennessee and Rochester, N.Y. I can't even find a reference in the Rochester media to its losing these jobs. Must be the permafrost up there...
A couple of observations about this Time Warner deal:
* I spoke on Tuesday to Rhea Law (photo, left), the head of the Fowler White Boggs law firm in Tampa and chair of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. She had traveled with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission chairman Al Higginbotham to New York City to press the case for Time Warner choosing Tampa/Hillsborough. She said she was ecstatic that Tampa/Hillsborough had proved so competitive (with $3 million in incentives) to Time Warner. You can even glimpse her in this WPTV TV coverage in Tallahassee (she's on the right of the screen) as Time Warner CFO John Martin and Florida Gov. Rick Scott announce the Time Warner deal from the podium.
* The Time Warner deal is the biggest jobs boost to date for Gov. Scott and his campaign promise of Jobs Jobs Jobs. He joked that he needs only 1,400 such announcements to meet his 700,000 jobs goal. "Hopefully," says Scott, "there will be a lot more announcements like this." We wish him well. That's a tough order in this economy.
* With a Time Warner deal in hand, Florida suddenly has a tangible example of a big corporation choosing to add jobs in Florida over other states. That's something Gov. Scott and his economic development team, as well as Tampa Bay regional economic development groups and chambers of commerce can start using in their own business recruiting messages. Time Warner's coming? Why not you? As Time Warner CFO Martin (photo, right) said Tuesday: “You (Florida) have created a business environment where we can feel good about investing today with an eye toward growing in the future."
Let's take this positive moment and message and run with it.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, St. Petersburg Times