Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Business

Pasco economic message: Curtailing incentives is shortsighted

WESLEY CHAPEL — It is a sign Viggo Nielsen has been anxious to see for more than a year. First came the fresh coat of paint on the building’s exterior, then the blue lettering on the white banner facing motorists on the Suncoast Parkway: "Now hiring.’’

Nielsen, general manager of Mettler Toledo Safeline, said the company, which manufactures food safety equipment, plans to hire 120 people for its new manufacturing plant near the parkway and State Road 54 in Lutz. That is in addition to the hundreds of positions relocating from Hillsborough County and 50 more coming from Ithaca, N.Y., where Mettler Toledo is closing its operations and consolidating into the new 250,000-square-foot building in Pasco County.

The plant plans to open in February, Nielsen revealed Nov. 1 during an economic summit at Pasco-Hernando State College’s Porter Campus in Wesley Chapel. The three-hour session, put together by the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, the college and Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore, was intended to focus on east Pasco. But it was one of the county’s most recent economic recruiting successes, luring Mettler Toledo’s $30 million plant to central Pasco, that helped provide a focal point for a discussion on incentives, workforce development, education and other industrial-recruiting caveats.

Panelists for the morning session included Nielsen, J.D. Porter of Wiregrass Ranch, ComPark 75 owner and auto dealer Larry Morgan, and Kartik Goyani, a Metro Development Group vice president overseeing economic development within the 7,800-acre connected city corridor project in central and east Pasco. Among the highlights:

• There was near universal disdain for the brouhaha in Tallahassee earlier this year when House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, attempted to gut Enterprise Florida’s budget to eliminate economic development incentives.

Mettler Toledo, Raymond James Financial Services, which bought 65 acres in Wiregrass, and one of Morgan’s tenants in Compark 75, the engineering firm UC Synergetic, all benefited from job-creation incentives. Corcoran characterized incentives as corporate welfare.

"Shortsighted,’’ said Nielsen.

"Pretty said, pretty disgusting,’’ said Porter,

"Incentives are a way of life across the country,’’ said Morgan.

Later, keynote speaker Jerry D. Parrish, chief economist and director of research for the Florida Chamber Foundation, echoed the sentiment, saying he hoped to "see more common sense up there (in Tallahassee) instead of bashing business.’’

• Panelists split on the importance of low tax rates. Goyani said taxes are just one piece of the information employers consider in deciding the affordability of a location while Nielsen said, "I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it’s made out to be.’’

Porter, however, said increased impact fees — one-time charges on new construction to offset infrastructure costs — could make new homes less affordable, and Morgan said higher tax rates, leading to higher rents, can play a role in determining commercial occupancy rates. "Every dollar is important to them,’’ he said.

• Bill Cronin, Pasco Economic Development president and CEO, asked the audience of 85 people to consider carefully the November 2018 constitutional amendment to increase the homestead exemption another $25,000.

Pasco County has said the amendment, if enacted, would take a combined $10 million from its general and fire department funds if property tax rates remain unchanged.

"That money has to be made up somewhere,’’ said Cronin. "It’s coming from the county.’’

Comments
Past mistakes hamper Clearwater’s effort to revive downtown business incentives

Past mistakes hamper Clearwater’s effort to revive downtown business incentives

CLEARWATER — One year after the city’s boldest incentive program yet failed to secure a single business deal for downtown and caused confusion among applicants, the guidelines are being scrapped and rewritten to leave less room for misinterpretation....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas County Commission shows support for CrossBay Ferry

Pinellas County Commission shows support for CrossBay Ferry

CLEARWATER –– The ferry that once linked St. Petersburg and Tampa downtowns took one step closer to returning in November.While the Pinellas County Commission didn’t approve spending money to help pay for the CrossBay Ferry during a meeting Tuesday, ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Louisiana shipbuilder hopes to bring 1,000 jobs to Tampa shipyard through Coast Guard icebreaker program

Louisiana shipbuilder hopes to bring 1,000 jobs to Tampa shipyard through Coast Guard icebreaker program

TAMPA — Tampa Ship could welcome more than 1,000 new shipbuilding jobs if Louisiana-based Bollinger Shipyards wins a major contract to build up to six Coast Guard polar icebreakers.Bollinger could start staffing up at Tampa Ship, which has 62 acres a...
Published: 07/17/18
Robert Traurig, who helped build one of the world’s largest law firms, dies at 93

Robert Traurig, who helped build one of the world’s largest law firms, dies at 93

Robert Traurig helped build one of the largest law firms in the world and, in so doing, swept Miami-Dade County upward.Brickell Avenue skyscrapers. Open-air malls like Cocowalk in Coconut Grove. Residential communities on the edge of the Everglades. ...
Published: 07/17/18
Hard Rock announces new hotel in Ireland in 2020

Hard Rock announces new hotel in Ireland in 2020

Hard Rock International is expanding across the pond. The Seminole Tribe-owned casino and hotel chain announced Tuesday that it will open a Hard Rock Hotel Dublin in 2020, its first hotel in Ireland. It will partner with Irish hotel company Tifco Lim...
Published: 07/17/18
New Spring Hill funeral home offers dining, catering services for grieving families

New Spring Hill funeral home offers dining, catering services for grieving families

SPRING HILL — A new funeral home, in response to changing mores, is focused on serving the living, providing homelike conviviality and social amenities that reach beyond attention to death.Yvette and Jim Klausch, licensed funeral directors with 40 ye...
Published: 07/17/18
Want to live on Beeswax Lane? Tampa Bay developers strain to create new street names

Want to live on Beeswax Lane? Tampa Bay developers strain to create new street names

When Newland Communities began developing FishHawk Ranch in Hillsborough County two decades ago, naming streets wasn’t much of a problem."Literally, we would get out our list of Florida native bird names every time a new section came online," said Pa...
Published: 07/17/18
Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

In most places across America, nursing homes are facing an acute shortage of workers to take care of the country’s growing population of aging and disabled patients. But not in Florida. A Kaiser Family Foundation report published this month found tha...
Published: 07/17/18
Blacks can afford far fewer rentals than Asians and whites, study shows

Blacks can afford far fewer rentals than Asians and whites, study shows

Black and Latino residents of the Tampa Bay area can afford far fewer rentals than Asians and whites can. According to Zillow, blacks can afford just 19 percent of available rentals and Latinos 20.7 percent. That compares to whites being able to affo...
Published: 07/17/18
Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Amazon doesn’t even give its sellers a headsup on which July day the mega online retailer is selecting for its biggest sale of the year, Prime Day. But out of her natural sponges workshop in Tarpon Springs, Theo Prodromitis knew to start getti...
Published: 07/17/18