JIM DAMASKE | Times
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, center, is joined Thursday by, from left, General Electric energy management president and CEO Mark Begor, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche and state Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, at a groundbreaking for the company's new Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Clearwater. Construction has begun on the $50 million center, which will expand the capacity of GE's 40-year-old manufacturing and assembly facility next door at 1907 Calumet St. The existing facility has about 450 employees who build products such as transformers, and officials expect the new center and its 250 new local hires to be up and running within 12 months. Because of rain, the ceremony was held inside with a separate box of dirt.