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Latest 1,000 jobs reinforce regional economy, health care industry gains

Tampa's HealthPlan Services' commitment to add 1,000 area jobs is good news on multiple fronts.

With such a sizable expansion, the local company — which provides sales and administrative services to the insurance and managed care industries — offers a big economic thumbs-up to Tampa Bay's reviving economy.

Adding 1,000 jobs, to be spread over five years, is the largest expansion since Progressive Insurance's plan to add a similar number in 2003.

Tampa and Hillsborough economic development officials note HealthPlan's announcement on Wednesday follows closely on the heels of drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb's plan to bring 579 positions to Tampa.

The bulk of HealthPlan Services' jobs will pay above-average wages.

Even better, the same officials say there are several more job relocations or expansions of similar magnitude in the pipeline potentially coming our way.

"This expansion sends a clear message that we are a premier destination for business, and a growing leader in the health and life sciences sector, with government partners that strongly support the creation of new, high-wage jobs in our target industries," said David Pizzo, Tampa/Hillsborough EDC chairman. He's also the regional market president for Florida Blue, Florida's Blue Cross and Blue Shield company.

For all the medical momentum of recent days, this might as well be called Tampa Bay Health Care Innovation Week. Consider:

• The statewide group BioFlorida held its annual conference earlier this week in Tampa, offering an upbeat message that cutting-edge biotech and medical businesses are on the upswing here.

• A new database using mapping technology to showcase this region's health care and medical assets was announced by the Tampa Bay Partnership. The regional marketing group will debut its service next week.

• A new report issued this week reinforced the boom in clinical research trials in Florida by the country's pharmaceutical industry. More than 7,800 clinical trials of new medicines were conducted in Florida over the last 14 years, says the report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

• And a diverse gathering of health care, medical, academic, consulting and entrepreneurial experts met for several days this week to advance a mission to make the Tampa Bay region a top innovative health care hub.

The group, lead by Tampa/Hillsborough EDC chief Rick Homans, is building on the introduction this past May of the MediFuture brand and a belief this region has the health care assets, leadership and ability to leapfrog ahead of other medical hot spots in the country.

A MediFuture conference next June — high end, touting world-class speakers and ideas — is the near-term aim of this group of health care leaders.

Can Tampa Bay pull something like this off? Don't other metro areas big in health care have the jump on us?

"They do not," says Josh Michelson, a health care industry expert with the Oliver Wyman consulting firm in Chicago. He spoke in Tampa Wednesday and will help guide the ambitious regional MediFuture project. "Tampa Bay is on to something."

He calls us "aspirational."

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@tampabay.com.

Latest 1,000 jobs reinforce regional economy, health care industry gains

09/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 9:31pm]
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