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Jabil commits to St. Petersburg with $54-million complex and 850 new jobs

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil Circuit will remain in St. Petersburg and build a new $54-million complex for its worldwide headquarters and local manufacturing operations.

One of the Tampa Bay area's largest high-tech companies, Jabil plans to add 850 new jobs to its current local workforce of 1,880 by 2012. Work on the new facilities at the northwest corner of Interstate 275 and Gandy Boulevard will begin by year end and take 18 to 24 months to complete.

Florida officials signed off today on their piece of a controversial $34.4-million incentives package for Jabil that also includes contributions from Pinellas County and St. Petersburg.

"The company's contributions to our business community have translated into high-value jobs, innovative solutions and many other benefits to the state, as well as the Tampa Bay region," said Gov. Charlie Crist in a statement.

The timing of the deal was a little awkward, coming a day after the electronic parts manufacturer announced it had laid off 120 local production workers. Jabil blamed the job cuts on a downturn in orders from customers hurt by the stagnant economy.

Some laid-off workers said they were told by supervisors that work at the Ninth Street plant was drying up because Jabil moved projects to facilities in China. Jabil shifts work to lower-cost plants "based on the needs of our customers,'' said chief executive Timothy Main. That wasn't the primary cause of the layoffs, he said.

The company has 75,000 employees in 50 countries. But Jabil, with annual revenues of $12.3-billion last year, has increased its U.S. workforce by 83 percent to nearly 7,300 over the past five years, said Main. Local employment has grown 28 percent since 2003, including this month's layoffs.

Jabil considered moving from St. Petersburg and solicited relocation incentives from other states. Michigan made an offer that was worth more than Florida's, Main said. "But our preference was stay in Florida and not create a disruption to our business and our employees,'' he said.

The biggest chunk of the $34.4-million incentive package will be paid by the state. Pinellas County will contribute about $1.7-million and the city $12.7-million through grants, tax refunds, and road and utility improvements.

Secret negotiations to keep the company here began in October. City Council members quietly approved the incentives package in July without public notice, discussion or mention of what they were voting on. It was part of the so-called consent agenda in which numerous routine items are approved all at once.

Jabil commits to St. Petersburg with $54-million complex and 850 new jobs 09/12/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 2:08pm]
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