After Tampa drought, pipeline of potential jobs prospects starts to fill

There are some good things coming down the pipeline.

The Tampa-area economic development group has a wide array of business recruitment and expansion projects in the works. They range from a maker of nuclear waste containers to a California electronics firm to a local arm of a New York securities processing business.

Many of the potential deals are still in open competition with other states and cities. It will no doubt take some combination of state and local incentive dollars to reel them in. But some specific projects are expected to be unveiled as early as this week by the Tampa/Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

In all, the pipeline looks promising for 2013.

The EDC's top prospects include an as-yet unnamed cast-iron foundry company that plans to make nuclear waste containers. It could employ up to 400 people if it builds a $40 million facility.

A credit card processor that could bring 1,000 to 5,000 workers.

A firm making "nanotech textile based goods" with plans for 200 jobs averaging $40,555.

And a defense business in cyber security that would start with 35 jobs — and could grow to 210 — averaging an impressive $110,667, more than twice this area's typical pay. The opportunity to recruit this particular defense business arose from a meeting during the Republican National Convention with business executive and EDC member Don Phillips.

Proposed expansions by businesses already here include three financial service firms anticipating hundreds of jobs that pay on average from $50,694 up to $100,000. Two of the firms were recently identified as the securities transaction processing giant Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. and Digital Risk, which analyzes mortgage risks for investors.

The list goes on: A biotech firm looking to expand by 80 jobs paying an average of $60,000. And a wealth management firm with 100 jobs about to sign a lease for space in Temple Terrace.

Last week, international food distribution company Al-Ashrafiya chose an Ybor City site for its first warehouse in the United States. Its local division, called AA-USA, will start by hiring 18 people and could need 50 more in the next few years.

Tampa/Hillsborough EDC CEO Rick Homans said Friday at a gathering held at GTE Financial near Ybor City that his organization forecasts a good year.

"We expect to create 2,000 new jobs," Homans predicted, in the EDC's fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, 2013.

Notably, financial service companies account for a large number of the jobs in the pipeline. That industry surge revives memories of this region's former nickname, Wall Street South, earned after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when Wall Street firms moved more of their operations to safer parts of the country.

But firms from other industries are also job contenders.

Since October, the EDC officially has announced 15 jobs from Biologics Development Services. And last Friday, defense firm CLI Solutions vice president George Thomas unveiled a 40-job expansion at the EDC event.

Cultivating closer business ties to Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base as a recruiting tool for defense companies is an increasing priority, and not only for the EDC. Defense firm CEO Greg Celestan, new chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, last week also specified strengthening an industry link with MacDill as a key 2013 goal.

The Tampa area won't win all these pipeline projects. But if only a portion lands here, it signals a strong jolt to our tepid economic recovery.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@tampabay.com.

After Tampa drought, pipeline of potential jobs prospects starts to fill 12/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 17, 2012 11:29pm]

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