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State tax credit would sweeten Pasco County offer to T. Rowe Price

LAND O'LAKES — Florida has added a tax credit potentially worth millions of dollars in its bundle of incentives to persuade investment company T. Rowe Price to move to Pasco County.

The latest lure — a 20-year credit on corporate income taxes — could take the total offer to the Baltimore-based company well above the $26 million total revealed last month.

County officials defended the increasingly rich financial package from taxpayers as worthwhile to bring a major employer to Pasco.

"In the scheme of things, it's a good deal," County Commissioner Ted Schrader said of the financial package. "If it didn't go to this project, it's bound to go to someplace else in the state."

In an e-mail Tuesday to top county officials, Pasco Economic Development Council president Mary Jane Stanley said state economic development officials approved the final parts of the incentive offer for T. Rowe Price to move its Tampa office to Land O'Lakes.

Besides the corporate tax credit, the state recently approved $4.9 million in tax refunds. The county, which will cover a fifth of that money, had already approved its share. The Florida Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development signed off on the deal in Jan. 23 and 26 letters obtained by the Times.

Pasco and Florida officials want T. Rowe Price to build a three-building complex off State Road 54 east of the Suncoast Parkway. The company says it would move 435 jobs from Tampa, then add 1,215 over a decade. The average annual pay would be more than $47,000.

Two weeks ago, the state approved a separate $12 million payout to T. Rowe Price if it builds all three buildings and adds the 1,215 jobs over the decade starting in 2012.

That came on top of up to $14.5 million in cash, waived fees, road construction money and tax refunds (including the recently approved $4.9 million) offered by Pasco and state officials.

Pasco officials said Tuesday evening they did not know the estimated value of the corporate income tax credits, deferring to the state. The state agency did not return a message seeking comment.

The credit is based on the company's capital investment in a program designed for certain targeted industries, including financial services. The amount is 5 percent of the company's expansion costs, including building and equipping its offices.

That credit can then be applied annually to part or all of the company's income taxes, as long as employment levels are met.

The company has told the state its total capital investment would be $191 million. That translates into a credit of $9.6 million, if the company is allowed to take the maximum amount.

The largesse of state and county money is worthwhile because of the additional jobs it's predicated on, Pasco commissioners and County Administrator John Gallagher said.

"I think it's the beginning of an economic development process that we've been trying to push for a number of years," Gallagher said of adding significant jobs in a suburban, commuter county.

Stanley told the Times that the company is still reviewing its expansion options before making a final decision. The company last year told state officials that four communities outside Florida were being considered, but details of those offers remain scant.

The project still needs an environmental permit by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. That permit, Stanley said, is part of T. Rowe Price's process of "due diligence."

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

State tax credit would sweeten Pasco County offer to T. Rowe Price 02/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 10:51pm]
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