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FUND GIANT IN HOLDING PATTERN

T. Rowe Price officials say plans for 94 acres in Pasco won't develop "overnight."

Since financial services giant T. Rowe Price paid $13.5 million for 94 acres two years ago to move and expand its Tampa location to Pasco, the questions on everyone's minds have been when will construction begin, and when will those anticipated 1,600 high-wage jobs be filled?

Two company executives offered few concrete answers when they met Thursday night with the leaders of local homeowners associations.

"There's no set timetable," said Mark Ruhe, a company vice president who handles most of the Baltimore-based firm's land purchases. "This is a slow, methodical process. It's not overnight."

He said it's not uncommon for the company to hold onto land "for years" before building on it. To receive state and local economic incentives totaling $30 million, T. Rowe must finish its first building by 2015.

Ruhe, who is based in Baltimore, and John Townsend, vice president and general manager of the Tampa financial center, were invited to speak by the Pasco Alliance of Community Associations, also known as PACA. The group is composed of officers of homeowners associations and community development district boards in east and central Pasco. The group's monthly meetings are open to the public and often feature guests from government or business to update audience members on community issues.

PACA is the first public group T. Rowe officials have visited.

Townsend explained what the company does. "We're an investment management firm," he said. "We're not a bank. We're not an insurance company. We sell over 100 different mutual fund products." In addition to corporate clients, "We could be managing money your neighbor is saving right now for life investments."

The company, founded in 1937, employs 5,000, including 400 at its Tampa West Shore office, which originally was intended as a call center when it opened in 1994.

But "we clearly learned about a depth of talent and diversity of talent here," Townsend said. When the need came to expand, company officials said they were drawn to Pasco's new plan to cluster development in certain market areas and the synergy of State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway. The closeness to the Tampa location also would do little to disrupt the current work force, he said.

Townsend said jobs that would be coming to Pasco would deal with investment guidance for individual and institutional clients, technology, client relations and training. The office would mirror T. Rowe campuses in Owings Mills, Md., and Colorado Springs, Co. Those office locations offer such amenities as a fitness center, cafeteria, auditorium and on-site training facilities.

"We're trying to attract and retain a very high caliber associate," Ruhe said. Campuses also tend to be environmentally friendly, with lots of green space and recycling programs, he said.

The template for satellite locations is similar, but building features are customized to take advantage of an area's climate or geography.

"Here you're probably going to see more glass," Ruhe said.

As for jobs, the company expects to bring 1,000 to 1,200 new ones, though not immediately.

"That's over a significant period of time," Ruhe said.

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Fast facts

On the Web

Visit troweprice.com for information about T. Rowe Price's investment services. Go to "Careers" and select "Search Jobs" to find out about employment opportunities. Visit mypaca.org for information about the Pasco Alliance of Community Associations.

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