Make us your home page
Instagram

Pricewaterhouse Coopers says Tampa positions were not "at risk"

TAMPA — Before city and county officials voted last week to offer $1.2 million to a big financial services firm, they were told the money was needed to keep its jobs in Tampa.

A total of 1,633 jobs were "at risk," city and county officials said.

"That's how it was presented to us, that they were relocating outside of this area," County Commissioner Kevin Beckner said.

Elected officials approved the money, which won't be paid out until well after the firm builds a $78 million building.

On Monday, PricewaterhouseCoopers said it is the business in question, and it had an agreement to move to a new 10-story home in West Shore.

But it also said that, public incentives or not, it never planned to move its operations center, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, out of Tampa.

"We never considered moving those 2,000 jobs out of Tampa," PricewaterhouseCoopers Florida market managing partner Mario de Armas said.

The incentive package was one of many factors in the decision, de Armas said, but as important was Tampa's business environment and the education and stability of the work force.

The incentives from the city and county total $1.2 million. Another $800,000 from the state brings the total to $2 million.

As part of that overall package, local officials had voted in the spring to offer the firm $120,000 to create 200 jobs.

In an interview Monday, de Armas said "the incentives relate to the 200 new employees" the firm is looking at adding.

"Bottom line: If we don't add the 200 new positions and retain them for a certain period, we don't get the incentives," he said. "If we don't build the building, we don't get the incentives."

A July 11 application to the county prepared on behalf of the firm by the nonprofit Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. said the project was about the "retention of 1,633 jobs" and the "creation of 200 new jobs."

Asked why the project needed county support, the application mentioned "competing locations include South Carolina, India, Singapore and Argentina, where generous incentives or cost reductions are available."

On Monday, PricewaterhouseCoopers said those locations are places where it has operations that could be expanded with the 200 new jobs.

But Bruce Register, the county's corporate business development manager, billed the tax giveaway last week as perhaps the first of its kind in the county because about $1 million of the money was going to retain jobs rather than create them.

In recommending that commissioners approve the subsidy, Register told them July 19 that the then-unnamed business would be required to "affirm" existing jobs were "at risk" before the county would award its share of the money.

"If they're going to attest that they're not at-risk, then the eligibility for what we've offered them is in question," Register said Monday. "As in all incentive programs, there's criteria and performance measures that have to be demonstrated before they receive the benefit. This will be no different."

The "at risk" language of the county's application does not mean the same thing as moving out of Tampa, the firm said. It could have stayed on MLK Boulevard with a short-term lease, but that would have created uncertainty that a long-term lease does not.

Under the terms of the deal, neither the city nor the county will pay Pricewaterhouse­Coopers anything for at least six years. That's to ensure the firm builds its building as promised, and delivers on its commitments to create and retain jobs.

Register said his understanding was based on the July 15 letter from the Economic Development Corp., a private group overseen by business leaders that local governments pay to promote job creation.

That letter said the company confirmed July 13 that "should they move forward with the development of a new state-of-the-art building in the Tampa area after considering alternative site scenarios, they would recommit to their future in the Tampa area."

PricewaterhouseCoopers said it signed a 13-year lease with MetLife for a building with about 250,000 square feet of space. Construction is expected to begin this week at the MetWest International corporate park across from Tampa International Airport and International Plaza.

PricewaterhouseCoopers employees are expected to move into the building in the second quarter of 2013.

As they learned more Monday, commissioners and council members had mixed reactions.

County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who was out of town when the commission voted on the subsidy, said he wants to hear more about the conditions attached to the arrangement and whether they are being followed.

"There should be no questions when you're spending public money," Sharpe said. "It ought to be letter clear and we need to follow the rules by the letter."

Likewise, City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin said, "we can't have the contradictions. I think that definitely will be looked into."

But council member Lisa Montelione, who worked in the county's economic development office, said the agreement has guarantees that ensure the public gets value for its money.

"I think even in hindsight, it was a good decision to make, regardless of how they answered those questions," she said, "although in the future, I would like to see a little more clarity on those applications."

Pricewaterhouse Coopers says Tampa positions were not "at risk" 07/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 12:15am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.