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Opinicus moves forward with plans for Pasco move

Opinicus Corp., a flight simulator manufacturer in Clearwater that promises to bring hundreds of high wage jobs to Pasco, could break ground on its $2.5-million complex in Pasco as soon as next month, say those close to the project.

The company has negotiated with Pasco officials for more than a year regarding a move to the county's booming State Road 54 corridor.

The company, whose clients include Airborne Express, is expected to create about 225 new jobs with an average salary of $67,000 when it moves out of Pinellas County to North Pointe at Suncoast Crossings _ a new office/industrial park that is being developed by the Hogan Group east of the Suncoast Parkway at SR 54.

"Opinicus is going to break ground next month," Dan Morris, vice president of the Hogan Group, said Tuesday. "If not next month, within the next couple months."

The manufacturer will be the 80-acre park's first user.

"They'll probably be up and running by the end of the year," Morris said.

Opinicus representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but company vice president Jennifer Frame has said the manufacturer is expanding and by 2003 outgrew its offices along U.S. 19 in Clearwater.

Its planned facilities in Pasco promise plenty of breathing room.

According to construction plans filed in August, the manufacturer's 5.3-acre complex will include a 34,000-square-foot office building and 21,000-square-foot warehouse and assembly plant.

A third building, another 42,000 square feet of offices, is planned for Phase II of the project.

Aiding Opinicus in its move is more than $1-million in state incentives _ money that is being used to build a road linking the new complex to SR 54.

Pasco leaders say they hope the flight simulator company will usher in a new economic climate for the county.

Opinicus' move could help Pasco get past the "bedroom community" stereotype and attract similar high wage, light industry jobs _ "like an anchor," said County Administrator John Gallagher.