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Business chooses Oldsmar as home

Published Sep. 28, 2005

Answers Systems Inc., a Clearwater company, will move to a facility nearly triple the size of its current one and add 119 employees over the next four years.

Anticipating growth that will more than double its work force, a Clearwater-based company that provides database management and marketing services for large manufacturers plans to move its operations to Oldsmar.

Answers Systems Inc. plans to relocate to a 94,000-square-foot building in the 580 Corporate Center and hire 119 new employees with an average annual pay of $32,000 over the next four years.

"We have been growing at about 20 to 25 percent a year," said Roth Block, the company's vice president and general manager. "And we also are getting ready to launch a Web site that will move us much faster."

To help entice Answers Systems to remain in the area, Pinellas County commissioners and Oldsmar City Council members recently approved giving the company their share of a state tax refund package valued at up to $357,000 over six years.

The incentive package, called the Qualified Target Industry tax refund, calls for the city and the county each to match 10 percent of the maximum amount, or $35,700, according to city records.

The company employs 90 workers in 33,000 square feet in three buildings on 2120 Calumet St. in Clearwater. Most of the 94,000-square-foot facility the company plans to move into in Oldsmar will be used as a warehouse.

Answers Systems provides database management and customer service and handles sales material, coupon rebates and other promotions for large companies such as Lipton, Kraft and Kellogg's, Block said.

Much of the expansion is due to the company's launch in January of the Web site, which will allow large manufactures in the food-service industry to market their products with other businesses such as restaurants, Block said.

The company hopes to begin moving to Oldsmar in February or March. One reason the company decided on Oldsmar is the city's central location between Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

"It really opens up Tampa for us," Block said. "Being in Clearwater, it was hard to get people from Tampa to work for us."

According to city and county records, the $1.3-million project will bring $40,000 to $55,000 per year in new tax revenue to the city.

The refund package offered to the company is a performance-based incentive, which means the company has to provide the jobs and salaries it promises to receive the benefits.

Other companies have been offered a similar package to move to Oldsmar.

Uniprise, an arm of corporate giant Unit-edHealth Group, which provides health care plans and insurance to more than 50-million Americans, opened in October a 103,000-square-foot claims center in Oldsmar. The company received an incentive package that included $1.2-million in state and local tax refunds.

In August, a Largo-based company, Ocean Optics Inc., was offered a similar incentive package to move to a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oldsmar and bring 300 employees.

Oldsmar Mayor Jeff Sandler said the tax refund package is a great deal for the city because, in return, the city gets "a huge economic benefit" in property and other taxes when large employers move into the city. The companies also provide local residents a chance to apply for good-paying jobs.

"The ripple throughout the city's economy is substantial any time you have a large number of good jobs coming into the city," Sandler said. "Any city would be happy to have the jobs we are attracting."

_ Staff writer Ed Quioco can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or at