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Pasco offers $10 million in incentives to Raymond James

WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco County commissioners are poised today to approve $10 million in incentives for Raymond James Financial Services to build a new campus in Wiregrass Ranch, landing a second financial services company to help Pasco shed its status as a bedroom community.

"Pasco County is coming of age," County Administrator John Gallagher said after the proposed deal became public Monday.

The Pinellas-based firm plans to build two office towers, each 100,000 square feet, at State Road 56 and Mansfield Boulevard. According to documents provided by the county, Raymond James expects to bring 100 jobs to the site by 2014, and would have 750 jobs by 2024.

The jobs would pay at least an average of $38,901, which is 25 percent higher than Pasco's average annual wage.

"This is an important moment for the county," said state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. "It shows Pasco County is stepping into the 21st century when it comes to job creation."

The announcement marks the second major financial firm that plans to expand in Pasco. In 2009, Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price bought 94 acres off State Road 54 near Land O'Lakes for an office complex that could bring 1,600 jobs over the next decade.

Officials have put millions of dollars on the table to court these companies. The proposed Raymond James package, released Monday, includes about $10 million from Pasco County and $5 million from the state. Pasco Commissioner Ted Schrader said the incentives are worth it because other cities and counties are courting these major firms. "To remain competitive, we have to reach out to them and provide some financial incentives," he said.

"That's a lot of space," said Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche, who said he was concerned after hearing news of the possible deal if it meant losing the company someday. He said Raymond James has been "a good corporate neighbor."

"We'd love to keep those jobs here," he said.

Raymond James spokesman Steve Hollister said officials would not comment on the deal until commissioners vote today. However, he made it clear that the company, with headquarters at the Carillon Parkway complex in St. Petersburg, has no plans to abandon Pinellas County. "To be clear, Raymond James remains committed to Pinellas County," Hollister said.

Pasco offers $10 million in incentives to Raymond James 09/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:06am]
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