Sunday, January 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."

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