TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott made the christening of USAA's new 260,000 square foot Crosstown campus part of his, "Million Miles for a Million Jobs" tour on Wednesday and boasted about how Florida has beaten Texas in job growth for eight consecutive months.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke about Tampa's continuing success in attracting jobs, and USAA vice president Yvette Segura noted her company's expansion already has brought 400 new jobs to the area.
Equally notable, however, is how this part of Hillsborough County has become a major hub for commercial development. The area between State Road 60 and the Manatee County line continues to add new complexes along Interstate 75 and U.S. 301.
In the Crosstown Center on Delaney Creek Drive, you can find USAA, which currently counts 800 employees in its new building, LifeLink Foundation next door and Grow Financial has its corporate headquarters in the same center. Just to the east, near Topgolf and Bass Pro Shops, Tampa General and Florida Hospital are partnering to build a $60 million outpatient center.
Just south along U.S. 301 sits Progressive Insurance's sprawling campus. Further south in Ruskin Amazon has its fulfillment center with 2,000 employees. To the north of State Road 60 you'll find significant locations for Citibank and Chase plus the Sabal Park business complex.
"That area along I-75 has been one of our primary areas," said Randy Smith, director of research for the Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.
"A lot of financial services have started there and grown up and expanded," added Smith, noting that Johnson & Johnson recently added 500 employees in the Hidden River Corporate Park further north at I-75 and Fletcher Avenue.
The EDC reported last fall that the county has budgeted more than $125 million in capital improvement spending for 55 new projects. Through its new Competitive Sites program, the county also has identified another 58 sites with 27 million square feet of development entitlements.
Visibility and availability are two of the factors driving the trend because the market doesn't have a lot of existing space and companies want to build new. Smith said 11 sites in the corridor that represent more than 3 million square feet of office entitlements for new companies that want to come to the market or existing companies looking to expand.
Segura said for USAA, the attraction to the region also involved the broad access the location provides to an employee pool that includes the more than 300,000 residents who live in the nearby SouthShore and Brandon area. And thanks to I-75, the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, and nearby Interstate 4, it's a relatively easy commute for workers as far west as St. Petersburg and as far east as Polk County.
She also noted the relatively close proximity to the University of South Florida, University of Tampa and St. Leo University enhances the talent pool. The campus has more than 800 employees and room to expand to 1,200.
USAA, based in San Antonio, Texas, has maintained a location in Tampa for 40 years, including a major campus in New Tampa since 1993. When the company needed room for growth — in five years, its client base in Florida has grown from 600,000 to nearly 1 million — its search for additional space landed in Tampa and on Delaney Creek.
"We're really proud to be part of an emerging community and one that is so ripe with talent and opportunity," said Segura, adding that USAA now has 2,800 employees in Hillsborough County handling a number of financial services for clients.
For Scott, who continues to bill himself as the jobs governor, it's all music to his ears.
"The job creation in Tampa has just been outstanding," said Scott, complimenting Buckhorn for his help. "We've done trips together calling on companies and it's created a lot of jobs. This is a very vibrant community.
"I was up in New York City meeting with a lot of financial service companies and everyone of them that had businesses in Tampa said people want to be here and the reason they like Tampa is because Tampa is a melting pot. They said everybody is welcomed in Tampa. There's somebody like you in Tampa. People like being here and that's why the growth is here."
Contact Ernest Hooper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @hoop4you