Sunday, September 23, 2018
Business

Trigaux: Site selectors issue warning to state (and Pinellas) economy if Enterprise Florida is cut

A pair of site selection experts hired by Pinellas County this year to give an unvarnished look at the high-density county's challenging prospects for economic development and better wages offered up the good, the bad — and a warning.

If Florida or the Tampa Bay region's economic development organizations fail to provide traditional marketing or support to corporate projects recruited to this market, there will be a painful price in lost jobs and investment paid by the area economy.

That includes Pinellas County, warned Josh Bays, a principal with the Dallas economic development consulting firm Site Selection Group.

"It scares me to death," Bays said of the potential loss of backing by Enterprise Florida at the state level and the Tampa Bay Partnership at the regional level.

Bays' fears could be realized. Enterprise Florida, the state's job recruiting arm, is under fierce attack in Tallahassee by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and others who want to end or sharply curtail the public-private group's use of tax incentives as "corporate welfare" in recruiting companies to the state.

Enterprise Florida's fate remains unresolved as the state legislative session runs through May 5. But news of the lack of broad support in Tallahassee is spreading across the development world.

Bays is not shy about the importance of Enterprise Florida. "We think very highly of Enterprise Florida," emphasized the site selector — whose many dozens of corporate clients range from Amazon and Boeing to Harley-Davidson and Sykes Enterprises. The loss or diminishing of Enterprise Florida could prove harsh to Florida, he cautioned, especially when such nearby states as North and South Carolina and Tennessee often compete for the same jobs and face no similar legislative backlash to embrace all available recruiting tools to win jobs.

The Tampa Bay Partnership, originally created in the 1990s to market the region's economy, has shifted gears to focus on public policy advocacy for such issues as mass transit. But the task of regional marketing to recruit jobs and provide project support here has become divided among a growing number of county or city economic development corporations, better known as EDCs.

That's just one of the telling backdrops that emerged at the Pinellas County Economic Innovation and Leadership Symposium held Thursday and Friday. Among a range of speakers and topics, the Dallas duo from Site Selection Group stood out with fresh research data examining Pinellas County's options to attract relevant businesses that pay superior wages. Better wages, after all, is one of the core mantras of improving an area economy, boosting the area's quality of life and remaining a competitive region.

Mike Meidel, longtime Pinellas County economic development director, in January asked Site Selection Group to assess the county's potential to attract better-paying jobs in three specific areas:

• Can Pinellas attract corporate headquarters and, if, so, what are the most likely places in the county they could land?

• What financial service sector businesses could be recruited to Pinellas?

• And what can Pinellas do to attract more advanced manufacturing jobs, building on a low-profile but significant industry now scattered about the county?

These and other findings were presented at the conference by Site Selection Group's Bays, and company vice president Chris Schwinden, in a report succinctly titled "Compete Now."

The 46-page analysis gives a mix of promising and troubling insights that raise questions whether Pinellas can transform itself. Right now, it's a congested county with growing traffic issues, a perception problem that its population is lean on talented young adults and, for new businesses, boasts few available land parcels that are not in need of major teardowns and redevelopment.

The site selectors urged Pinellas to make more of its best available properties "shovel ready" by, for example, making the sites more accessible to highways, leveling ground and adding basic infrastructure.

In an interview with Meidel and the Site Selection Group authors, the issue of funding redevelopment quickly rose as a top concern. Meidel said it is hard without more funding for Pinellas to buy or redevelop its most promising land parcels in order to pitch them as choice spots for new businesses.

Bays and Schwinden also reinforced repeatedly that a local pool of talented workers is the No. 1 key to attracting any business in any sector. "It's workforce, workforce, workforce," Schwinden said.

"It is a priority over everything else," Bays added.

Remember the title of the site selector report. It's "Compete Now." Not "Compete Later."

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.

 
Comments
Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of cellphone calls will be scams by 2019, report says

Nearly half of all cellphone calls next year will come from scammers, according to First Orion, a company that provides phone carriers and their customers caller ID and call blocking technology.The Arkansas-based firm projects an explosion of incomin...
Published: 09/23/18
Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

Walmart is teaming with a Seminole Heights chef to promote locally grown mushrooms

TAMPA — It might seem like an unlikely match from the outside: A distinguished chef with a restaurant known for inventive plates using produce shoppers can find at… Walmart?Walmart, the country’s largest grocer, is known for having a core consumer wh...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Joe and Son's Olive Oils, a legacy Ybor business, finds new roots in Carrollwood

Andrea Gebbia grew up in Carrollwood, and now she is bringing the family business to the neighborhood of her youth.In late fall, Joe and Son’s Olive Oils is slated to open a second location."I feel so blessed having the ability to grow my...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

Tampa General nurses record the last heartbeats of dying patients, making a family memory

TAMPA — As John Reisinger waited with family at Tampa General Hospital, grief settled in like a fog. So some of the details are hazy.But he remembers the moment when three women in white lab coats approached him.The day before, his niece, Jessica Rau...
Published: 09/21/18
Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

Retro Fitness sets first of several area locations in Citrus Park

In early fall, Retro Fitness will open a 17,000 square foot fitness facility in Citrus Park, and it plans for more Tampa Bay area locations.Founded in 2005, Retro Fitness has 153 clubs throughout the United States and is the official fitness center o...
Published: 09/21/18
The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

The guys who brought you Tampa’s Armature Works plan high-end offices next door, and they’ve already signed a lease with med-tech company AxoGen

TAMPA — Coming soon from the developers who brought you the Armature Works: Heights Union, two high-end office buildings next door to the trendy food hall, event space and co-working complex overlooking the Hillsborough River.Developers said Friday t...
Published: 09/21/18
Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea looks to succeed where others failed

RIVEVIEW – Amy Lin knows that her newest Chi Chop + Kung Fu Tea store is in a location where previous businesses have not lasted.The short-lived Tap’s Brewhouse & Deli and even shorter-lived Top Shelf Sports Bar and Grill tried to r...
Published: 09/21/18
Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

Federal loans open to Pinellas businesses struggling against Red Tide

The U.S. Small Business Administration has extended its disaster loan program to include Pinellas and Pasco county businesses affected by Red Tide.Already, the Pinellas County Economic Development Office was taking applications for bridge loans to he...
Published: 09/21/18
Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

Watch: A southern white rhinoceros calf just a week after being born at ZooTampa

TAMPA — A southern white rhinoceros gave birth to a calf at ZooTampa on Sept. 12, marking the sixth successful birth of the species in the zoo's history. In a news release, ZooTampa said southern white rhinoceroses are a nearly threatened spec...
Published: 09/21/18
Baggers, cashiers soon can grow beards at Publix

Baggers, cashiers soon can grow beards at Publix

ORLANDO — The faces of baggers, cashiers and stockers at a Florida-based grocery chain may look slightly different in the near future.That's because Publix said Friday that it would start allowing workers to grow beards and other facial hair b...
Published: 09/21/18