Saturday, July 21, 2018
Business

PODS moving to larger Pinellas County headquarters, creating 40 more jobs

Moving and storage firm PODS Enterprises is relocating its Clearwater headquarters to a larger facility in the Feather Sound Corporate Center.

The company is investing $2.1 million in the expansion, which will create 40 jobs. PODS' current headquarters on Rio Vista Drive in Clearwater will remain the home of its national sales and service center and be upgraded with additional training facilities.

The short-distance executive relocation announced by the state Tuesday isn't without controversy.

Economic development officials approved PODS to receive a potential tax rebate of $240,000, or $6,000 for each job created. The state of Florida would cover $192,000 worth of the rebate and the county the remaining $48,000.

To qualify, PODS must create the jobs by the end of 2016.

Last May, when the Pinellas County Economic Development officials first proposed a tax incentive package, the company was not identified. However, they indicated the mystery company was considering a site in Georgia as well, meaning the county could lose out on a project wielding an economic impact of $3.5 million.

Government watchdog group Integrity Florida challenged that reasoning as falling short.

"Why did Enterprise Florida and local officials negotiate these taxpayer-funded subsidies in secret for a company founded in Pinellas to move down the street," asked Integrity Florida executive director Dan Krassner.

Stacey Swank said the state's Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund program is used not just to bring new jobs to the state but also to retain and expand local companies — particularly businesses like PODS that are weighing a move out of state.

PODS officials were not available for comment. But in a statement, company president and CEO John B. Koch said, "We are very excited about our relocation and are happy to be staying in Pinellas County."

Gov. Rick Scott announced the expansion Tuesday, crediting strong partnerships among Enterprise Florida, Pinellas County, Pinellas County Economic Development and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

"PODS considered other locations like Georgia, but realized that Florida's business climate is one of the best in the nation," Scott said in a statement. "This is great news for Pinellas County and the state of Florida and we look forward to PODS continued growth in the Sunshine State."

Comments
He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

He was fired after an encounter with a ‘racist’ customer. After sharing his story, Home Depot changed its mind.

After a man last Thursday approached the checkout at a Home Depot in Albany, New York, staff member Maurice Rucker asked him to leash his dog. That’s when the man exploded.Rucker, a 60-year-old black man, claimed he was fired Tuesday after defending ...
Published: 07/21/18
Open office plans are as bad as you thought

Open office plans are as bad as you thought

A cubicle-free workplace without private offices is supposed to force employees to collaborate. To have them talk more face-to-face. To get them off instant messenger and spontaneously brainstroming about new ideas.But a recent study by two researche...
Published: 07/21/18
Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

Officials speak out against demolition plans for historic Jordan Park section

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County School board chair Rene Flowers was fired up Friday. She talked about growing up in Jordan Park, the city’s first public housing project and a sentimental and historic marker of St. Petersburg’s African-American commu...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida is still paying SunPass contractor, even after officials said they would stop

Florida has not stopped paying the SunPass contractor responsible for the tolling system’s outage, even after transportation officials said the state would suspend all payments.In a letter on Monday, FDOT secretary Mike Dew said the state would not p...
Published: 07/20/18
Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida among the top 3 states with the most income inequality

Florida is one of three states in the nation with the biggest income gap between the very rich and everyone else.In 2015, a family in the top 1 percent nationally had an average income of more than $1.3 million — or 26.3 times as much as the $50,107 ...
Published: 07/20/18
Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

Tampa International Airport ranked in top 10 for defense against cyber threats

TAMPA — Tampa International Airport was ranked this week as the 10th safest U.S. airport to go online without being hacked, but the ranking is not only about the place, but also about how savvy its travelers are.The data security firm Coronet ranked ...
Published: 07/20/18
When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

When suicide threats come calling: ‘I try to make a connection.’

TAMPA — At first glance, it’s a typical office with more than a dozen cubicles under florescent lights. The operators wear headsets and stare into computer screens, some tinkering with handheld toys, others browsing Facebook or chatting with colleagu...
Published: 07/20/18

State record of $321 million in unclaimed property back to residents and businesses

More than $321 million was returned to Florida residents and businesses from the state’s unclaimed property in the past fiscal year.Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis took office in July 2017 and said this year’s total broke last year’s rec...
Published: 07/20/18
Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Trump ready to hit all Chinese imports with tariffs

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump has indicated that he’s willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs, sending U.S. markets sliding before the opening bell Friday. In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said...
Published: 07/20/18
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Published: 07/20/18