Here's a rare bit of good news. Seventy new high-wage jobs are coming to Palm Harbor.
Oscor Inc., a manufacturer of pacemaker components that was founded in Palm Harbor in 1983, recently had a choice to make: Should it expand its operations in Minnesota or here in Pinellas County?
The company weighed its options and has chosen to expand here, Pinellas officials announced Wednesday.
There was a sweetener for the deal. The county and state offered $210,000 in tax breaks to Oscor - tax refunds that will be paid after these jobs are gained. The County Commission approved the tax incentives in April.
"In the best interest of our company, we had to explore other options and there are some strong competitors out there," said Thomas Osypka, the company's president and CEO. But he added: "Pinellas has been a great fit for our business."
Oscor manufactures leads for pacemakers. A lead is the wire that runs inside the body from the pacemaker to the heart. The company also makes other products such as diagnostic catheters, and sells them in 35 countries.
It is headquartered in a building off Alt. U.S. 19 along the Pinellas Trail near Wall Springs Park.
The 70 new medical manufacturing jobs will be in a nearby 50,000-square-foot building, also off Alt. U.S. 19. Oscor owns the building and plans to turn it into an engineering facility.
It's unclear exactly how much the new jobs will pay.
According to the tax refund agreement, Oscor has four years to create the jobs. But it won't get the refund until the jobs exist.
"The company gave serious consideration to Minneapolis for this project," said Danielle Ruiz, business development manager for Pinellas County Economic Development. "That Pinellas County came out on top speaks to both the positive impact of Florida's incentive programs and the appeal of the area to high-tech industry."
How Oscor first came to Palm Harbor in 1983 is a familiar Florida tale. One of its co-founders, Brian Cornish, liked the relaxed setting and warm weather here. He had worked for Johnson & Johnson in its pacemaker division.
The other co-founder, Peter Osypka, was a German who produced pacemakers and pacemaker leads at a factory in that country. Through Oscor, they brought the German technology to the American market.
The going was slow at first because doctors were hesitant to try a new product so critical to a patient's health. But Oscor's business grew steadily over the years.
Pacemakers are a growing market because the average recipient is 70, which taps into the aging baby boomer generation.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4160.
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What: Manufacturer of medical devices
Location: 3816 De Soto Blvd., Palm Harbor
Phone: (727) 937-2511
On the Web: www.oscor.com