TAMPA — Lauding the city as "a magnet for well-educated millennials," executives from Johnson & Johnson were joined Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn in formally opening the company's new North America Global Services Center, which will ultimately employ 500 people by 2020.
"J & J chose Tampa because of the quality of the people here — people with experience in business services. Smart, talented people. People with multilingual capabilities," Erin Champlin, the company's vice president of global services, told hundreds of employees and guests.
The state and the company announced last year that Johnson & Johnson would create jobs averaging at least $75,000 and make a capital investment of $23.5 million into the region. That made the New Brunswick, N.J., company eligible for state and local incentives of up to $6.4 million as it delivers on the promised jobs and wages.
There are already 240 employees at the center, in the Hidden River Corporate Park off E Fletcher Avenue and Interstate 75. J & J has leased the first five floors of six-story Hidden River Corporate Center One. Many of the jobs will be in human resources, accounting, information technology and other back-office jobs.
Dominic Caruso, Johnson & Johnson's executive vice president and chief financial officer, repeated the "millennial magnet" boast Buckhorn first used at the August 2015 announcement of the deal. But the city's cheerleader-in-chief had plenty more to tout.
"This is a place that three out of the last five years has led the state in number of new jobs being created," Buckhorn said. "This is a place that young people are flocking to. Where intellectual capital is coming, wanting to be a part of this. This is that place in America that the best and brightest want to be a part of."
Johnson & Johnson is one of the most recognized brand names in the world. Its consumer health care products include its eponymous baby shampoo and lotion, Band-Aid adhesive bandages, Listerine mouthwash and Tylenol pain reliever.
The move adds to an already significant footprint for the company in Florida. Its Vistakon eye care business is based in Jacksonville and its surgical, consumer and pharmacy businesses are in South Florida, which serves as a hub for Latin America.
"They're going to continue to grow because we're going to continue to make sure we have the right talent, the right taxes, the right regulation, and we're going to continue to make sure J & J wants to add more and more jobs," Scott said.