ZEPHYRHILLS — Gov. Rick Scott came to Pasco on Friday to announce Florida's latest jobs figures, highlighting a bright spot in a county economy with an above-average unemployment rate.
At a news conference at the Career Central job training center in Zephyrhills, Scott met with Adam Hartz, a former Marine who started a sales job a month ago at Manufacturers Distributor Inc., a small New Port Richey firm.
"Adam is a local success story," the governor said of the St. Petersburg native.
Hartz, 33, said he didn't know Scott would single him out in the news conference.
He thought he would simply stand behind the governor as he spoke and took questions.
"Everything has gone very well for me," Hartz said. "I can't complain where I'm at right now."
Hartz quipped that his wife is also a lot happier: "I'm not on the couch watching TV, I'm actually working."
Hartz said he was unemployed for about eight months after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years.
"It's definitely frustrating when you're sitting at home, doing all the online stuff," he said. "You never get responses no matter how well you think it's going."
Career Central, he said, helped connect him with employers who would see he wasn't just "a name on a sheet of paper."
Sam Arledge owns Manufacturers Distributors Inc., an online retailer of industrial products and tools.
He's up to 14 employees and plans to hire two more soon.
"We're running out of chairs," he said.
Scott said he announced the state job figures in Pasco because the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board has ranked first or second in each of the last six months in job placements, compared to Florida's other 23 regional workforce boards.
Overall, Florida added 9,000 jobs in June, just enough to keep up with population growth. The state's unemployment rate was stuck at 8.6 percent. But Scott cited several signs of improvement, including rising home prices, a jump in building permits and an increase in sales tax collections.
"Throughout our state we see signs our economy is moving in the right direction," he said. "We know there are employers who are hiring today."
Lee Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6236.