Saturday, June 16, 2018
Business

Is Jabil missing link for St. Pete core?

Even to skeptical columnists, it's hard to deny the economic momentum under way in downtown St. Petersburg.

A key puzzle piece by the name of Jabil Circuit is still missing. But let's first celebrate some of the good things happening.

A brand new business incubator, dubbed the TEC Garage, is in the works that will house space for 30 startups. A waterfront master plan will help preserve the city's trademark park space but better organize nearby business opportunities. Sundial, the revamped BayWalk shopping plaza, is starting to roll out new stores and restaurants. A brand new building for USF St. Petersburg's college of business will soon rise.

Want more? The Tampa Bay Rowdies, rejuvenated by new owner and St. Pete's one-man economic development machine Bill Edwards, now play at Al Lang Stadium. And fresh plans for a new, more viable Pier are under way.

I did not even mention downtown's biggest boom. New apartment and condo complexes are exploding. They range from the Beacon 430, a four-story, 326-apartment complex, to Modera Prime 235, an eight-story, 309-apartment building. And coming soon is the Hermitage, a $65 million project expected to open by late 2015 with 348 apartments.

Those complexes, and others in the works, will bring a vast supply of modern housing to a downtown lifestyle in demand for its walkable options in entertainment, education, shopping, restaurants and people gazing.

What's missing? More jobs. Significant jobs. Headquarters jobs. St. Pete's getting back on the economic development wagon, so some company expansion deals should be announced over the summer.

Don't forget Jabil Circuit.

It's the Fortune 200 global electronics manufacturer based off Roosevelt Boulevard in north St. Petersburg. It's also downtown's big question mark ever since this newspaper reported last July that Jabil might move its headquarters to land near Tropicana Field on the western edge of downtown St. Pete.

At that time, a draft plan for the downtown site included a 360,000-square-foot campus of Class A office space and parking that would make it downtown's largest commercial complex. While Jabil employs 1,600-plus workers at its headquarters, a good portion of them work in an adjacent manufacturing facility. If Jabil chooses a downtown HQ, those workers will likely stay where they are.

Initially, Jabil said it hoped to choose a headquarters site by the end of 2013. Now that decision feels overdue. It could stay where it is or build on land near its HQ. It could pick a different site. Or it could come downtown.

This much we do know: A Jabil headquarters in downtown St. Pete would a fill critical gap in the city's downtown renaissance. Highly trained, well-paid managers running a 177,000-employee worldwide corporation would be a feather in the workforce cap of just about any downtown on the planet.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

Your barista is a robot. Should it be friendly?

SAN FRANCISCO - The cold, steely arm of Fernando the Barista swirled the foam of my matcha latte, set it down gently, and waved goodbye from inside a glass case. San Francisco, 2018. Where you can get robot pizza and robot salad, and now, a robot mat...
Published: 06/16/18
Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District take off

Extending Albert Whitted’s runway could help Innovation District take off

ST. PETERSBURG — Albert Whitted Airport wants to extend its main runway. But what would benefit the airport could also benefit the St. Pete Innovation District.Moving the runway would ease building restrictions around the airport, allowing the Univer...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate drops to 3.8 percent

Just when it seemed like Florida’s unemployment rate couldn’t get lower, it did. According to the state figures out Friday, Florida’s jobless rate dipped to a near 18-year low of 3.8 percent in May after holding steady at 3.9 percen...
Published: 06/15/18
St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

St. Petersburg home becomes finalist in HGTV contest

ST. PETERSBURG — A house in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast is a finalist in HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt contest. Built in 2007 in the Mission Revival style, the 4,000-square-foot home a block from Coffee Pot Bayou is among 12 nationwide in the "curb a...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

Florida’s first not-for-profit coding school is opening in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Filling in a hole that was left by The Iron Yard’s exodus last year, a new computer coding school will open its doors to its first class in downtown St. Petersburg on July 23.The Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild will operate thro...
Published: 06/15/18
Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates pays $43-million for Boynton Beach apartment community

Tampa-based Robbins Property Associates, has bought Aventine at Boyton Beach, a 216-unit apartment community, for $43 million.Aventine, garden-style apartments that are 95 percent occupied, will be renovated and renamed "Verona at Boynton Beach."It i...
Published: 06/15/18
Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

Florida craft beer guild: Big Beer is pushing us out of Publix

The national battle between Big Beer and local craft breweries is playing out on the shelves of your neighborhood Publix — and some favorite Florida brewmakers are losing.The guild that represents Florida brewers says at least 12 small breweries have...
Published: 06/15/18
Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Accused of racial profiling, Lowe’s ends policy of checking customer receipts as they leave

Memorial Day weekend was supposed to bring three productive days of home improvement for Will Mega, a dean at a North Philadelphia charter school.He’d go to two Lowe’s locations near his home in Philadelphia’s Wynnefield neighborhood for a grill and ...
Published: 06/15/18
McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

McDonald’s to test alternatives to plastic straws in U.S.

NEW YORK — McDonald’s said Friday it will switch to paper straws at all its locations in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and test an alternative to plastic ones in some of its U.S. restaurants later this year.The burger chain and other fast-food comp...
Published: 06/15/18
Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

Strange brew? Tampa Bay group hopes to grow hops and medical marijuana in the same spot

ST. PETERSBURG --- Among topics that stir passionate interest, two that rank high are medical marijuana and craft beers.A group of Tampa Bay entrepreneurs has ambitious plans to profit from both.They are leasing a vast warehouse space in St. Petersbu...
Published: 06/15/18