Raymond James Financial is considering a satellite campus half the size of its sprawling St. Petersburg headquarters in another Tampa Bay county.
On its list of potential sites are properties that span from southern Pasco to southeast Hillsborough.
The financial services firm would not be leaving its 1 million-square-foot home campus in the Carillon Parkway office complex, said Anthea Penrose, company spokeswoman. But last year Raymond James analyzed its space and concluded it would be at or near capacity within the next several years.
And there is another problem: Because the headquarters location is in a Level 1 area evacuation for hurricanes, the firm must consider relocating vulnerable operations, such as the IT department, Penrose said.
The firm's initial request for proposals says the campus could be 300,000 to 500,000 square feet, which would make it one of the largest office complexes to be built in years.
The Carillon headquarters employs roughly 3,300 people. Penrose could not say how many of those employees would be moved to the new location.
Occupying four towers in the Carillon complex, Raymond James at one point considered building a fifth tower, but ruled out that option.
In the latest Times' rankings, Raymond James ranked as the seventh-largest public company in the Tampa Bay area with $2.6 billion in annual revenue.
The possible expansion comes as good news to a region with 12 percent unemployment.
"It's an exciting opportunity for the Tampa Bay area," said Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel. "I would love to see them land in Pasco."
Pasco, which has 13 percent unemployment, has been trying to change its decades-old status as a bedroom community.
The county got a huge boost in 2009 when Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price bought 94 acres off State Road 54 for an office complex that could bring 1,600 jobs over the next decade. Construction for T. Rowe's first building must be finished by 2015.
Two sites in Pasco that county officials are showing off to Raymond James are Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel and property at State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway, near the proposed T. Rowe Price campus.
Before Raymond James confirmed Tuesday that it is on the hunt, Pasco Commissioner Ted Schrader would say only that he had met with the real estate division of a major company.
He said county officials and the Pasco Economic Development Council have put together a tentative incentive proposal that could include economic grant funds and assistance with road work.
"We're doing our best to make it as competitive as we can," Schrader said.
J.D. Porter, whose family owns Wiregrass Ranch, declined to comment Tuesday. "I signed a gag order," he said.
Just last week, Wiregrass Ranch pitched a mega sports complex proposal to county commissioners. The project's backers plan to request tourist tax money to help build infrastructure.
Schrader said the sports complex and business venture could have some connections because of the proximity.
"You'd have the possibility of a … company trying to get naming rights," he said.
Jeff Miller, a Realtor and chairman of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce Economic Development committee, said the Wiregrass Ranch area would be an ideal location for Raymond James to expand.
He cited its proximity to Interstate 75, a large mall and plans for a hospital and a community college, as well the possibility of light rail.
"Wiregrass is becoming the center of Pasco County," he said. "I can't wait to sell all of their employees houses."
Reach Jodie Tillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247, or Lisa Buie at email@example.com or (813) 909-4604.