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State adds $12M more to pot in hopes T. Rowe Price will move to Pasco

Top Florida officials have added a previously undisclosed $12-million to the pot of money to lure financial giant T. Rowe Price to Land O'Lakes.

The money from the state's "high impact" incentive fund would come on top of up to $14.5-million promised by Pasco and state officials in November.

The Baltimore-based company is considering moving 435 jobs from its Tampa investment offices and adding 1,215 more workers in three large offices off State Road 54 east of the Suncoast Parkway.

"Pumped — it's great news," County Commission Chairman Jack Mariano said Saturday.

The company has been mum on a decision about the move as it awaits news from Florida economic development officials. In an e-mail Friday to top county officials, Pasco Economic Development Council president Mary Jane Stanley said two more state incentive requests still have to be decided.

"We are making progress," Stanley wrote.

T. Rowe Price has told state officials it was also considering four locations out of state, but officials with those communities and the company have not made any comment on any offers or their status.

In November, the County Commission approved the $14.5-million package of county and state payments, permit and impact fee credits and road building funds. That includes $3-million recently approved by state officials to build a road in the complex near Long Lake Ranch. That's the largest road incentive that the state has offered, said Sen. Mike Fasano, who oversees economic development spending as a committee chairman.

But county commissioners and Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said they were unaware of the additional $12-million until the last few days because the company dealt directly with state officials.

In a Tuesday letter to the company, Enterprise Florida, the state's economic development arm, promised the money in two installments.

Half would be paid when two buildings and 345 new jobs are created. The other half would be paid once the final building is up and all 1,215 jobs are created. The company has until May 15 to agree to those terms.

"I'm extremely pleased that it's coming to fruition and it looks like an excellent chance T. Rowe Price will come, but it's up to them," Fasano said.

The "high impact" incentive fund is supposed to help recruit major employers and expansions. According to Enterprise Florida, companies qualify by adding at least 100 jobs and investing $100-million within three years in certain industries, including financial services.

The program allows officials to move quickly on requests. The state only has 10 days to review an application, and typically is done in five days.

In a reported $190-million investment, the company has proposed moving to Land O'Lakes in 2012, and expanding its operations over a decade. County incentives are based on new job creation and full construction, too.

County officials said the outstanding requests for state money appear to be for a previously disclosed $1.5-million training grant that's part of the original package, and a fourth incentive they had no information about.

County Commissioner Michael Cox said it could be worth millions of dollars.

The company also has requested a development permit with the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which is expected to be decided by February.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6232.

State adds $12M more to pot in hopes T. Rowe Price will move to Pasco 01/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 24, 2009 2:14pm]

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