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Pasco considers spending millions to entice T. Rowe Price

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County officials will decide Wednesday whether to promise financial giant T. Rowe Price up to $7.6-million to bring 1,650 jobs to Land O'Lakes.

It could be part of a $14.5-million or more package of county and state incentives to lure the company's Tampa operation to Pasco in 2012 with an expanded financial services operation.

"T. Rowe Price hits the target market as far as what we want," said Mary Jane Stanley, president of the Pasco Economic Development Council.

The company would shift 435 jobs and ultimately create 1,215 more in Pasco. The average annual pay would be at least $47,225. Pasco has long sought to land a large, corporate employer.

But documents released Friday also say Pasco faces competitors: Houston; Omaha, Neb.; St. Louis and Tulsa, Okla.

Friday was the first time county officials acknowledged T. Rowe Price was the potential occupant of up to 450,000 square feet in three office buildings that would be built in the Long Lake Ranch development. "Project Comet" — revealed by the Times on Sept. 30 — would take shape east of the Suncoast Parkway off State Road 54.

But County Commissioner Michael Cox said the county wanted to release the information before the commission vote Wednesday to avoid accusations of secrecy. St. Petersburg took heat over keeping details of an incentive package for Jabil Circuit hidden during a June vote. "I refuse to follow the path of the city of St. Petersburg and Jabil Circuits," Cox said.

Incentives are based only on new jobs being created.

Pasco's package includes $2.5-million in cash in reserve and $2.4-million to match a share of state contributions. The rest is taxpayers covering the value of impact fees on new construction and permit fees. The value of the fees could change if the jobs and buildings arrive quicker, because fees go up over time.

The state is mulling another $6.9-million in tax refunds and road construction money, and more incentive money could be added, Stanley said.

If the company pulls out within 10 years of first receiving the incentives, T. Rowe Price has to reimburse Pasco a proportionate share of the money. The company selected Tampa for an office in 1994. If it leaves Pasco after a similar tenure, county officials acknowledge they will not recoup the incentives.

The company would spend $191.6-million to build and outfit the Pasco operation. The company has informed the state a decision is due before the end of the year. Pasco officials said they do not know details of their competitors' offers.

T. Rowe Price cannot expand at its Tampa location, a consultant for the company told the state in an incentive application. A spot at Crosstown Center in Brandon has been ruled out, leaving Pasco the only potential location in Florida, according to an Oct. 24 letter to state economic development officials from T. Rowe Price vice president Mark Ruhe.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.

By the numbers

$7.6-million Maximum Pasco County incentive contribution.

$6.9-million Minimum contribution Florida officials could add.

$3,662 Maximum costs to Pasco per job.

$58-million 10-year tax benefit to Pasco.

2,400 Total jobs, including spinoff employers.

Source: Pasco County Administrator's Office

Pasco considers spending millions to entice T. Rowe Price 10/31/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 31, 2008 10:16pm]

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