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Citigroup to add nearly 1,200 Tampa Bay jobs averaging $75,000 if incentives are right

Published Feb. 14, 2015

The New York money center bank Citigroup, already a powerhouse employer in this market, is considering a plan to add up to 1,163 jobs averaging a hefty $75,000 and $90 million in capital investment at its Sabal Park campus near Interstate 75 in Hillsborough County.

It's not a done deal. Citigroup has other locations where it could place such high-paying jobs, which involve work in accounting, legal, human resources and operational support. The deal here depends on whether state and local authorities can agree on an incentive package of just under $15 million — and whether Citigroup finds a better deal elsewhere.

The matter is scheduled for consideration on Wednesday by the Hillsborough County Commission. County staff has recommended the county approve its portion of incentives, about $3.4 million, as part of the larger jobs incentive package with the state's Enterprise Florida.

The boost in Citigroup jobs — in number and average pay — is big even amid Hillsborough's recent robust run of job recruiting coups. The last financial deal of this magnitude was the agreement with financial services firm USAA, announced in late 2013, to add up to 1,215 jobs by 2019 and build a 420,000-square-foot facility in Brandon to accommodate its expansion. Those jobs, in contrast to those planned by Citigroup, pay an average of $47,581.

"We remain hopeful that, if approved, these incentives will help us win the new jobs and capital investment for Hillsborough County," Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. CEO Rick Homans said in a statement.

Even if the Citigroup deal lands in Tampa, there is no guarantee all of the jobs will materialize. That's why the state and local incentives are largely designed to be paid out over time, after the promised jobs arrive, said Hillsborough director of economic development Lindsey Kimball.

Citigroup would be obligated to fill the first 200 jobs by the end of this year, with 618 more by year-end 2016. The final year, 2017, would require 345 more jobs to add up to the proposed 1,163.

The deal also calls for Citigroup to maintain a base of 5,173 existing jobs, and for the new jobs to remain, averaging $75,000, over at least six years.

Wednesday's meeting will require county commissioners to consider three different incentives. One, part of the QTI or Qualified Target Industry incentive, involves a county commitment of up to just under $1.4 million. The other two incentives, one for up to $1.4 million and the other for $600,000, are tied to job creation and performance standards. Combined, the county commitment could reach $3.4 million, spread over 10 years. With the state's commitment, if it is approved, the total package would top out at a shade under $15 million.

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Lately, Citigroup seems inclined to grow here, earning the banking giant a visit and recognition for job creation in December from Gov. Rick Scott.

For all of Tampa Bay's desire to diversify its economy, financial services continue to be a regional mainstay, especially from big New York banking institutions. Many set down back-office roots in this area long ago and generally liked the caliber of the local workforce, the relatively cheaper costs of real estate and payrolls, and the warmer weather — especially when senior New York managers typically choose January or February to visit their operations here.

Another less spoken reason that Tampa Bay remains popular with Wall Street and the big banks: vulnerability. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, New York-based banks became more aggressive in spreading out their resources.

Among the big financial employers here from New York and other northern cities are J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., MetLife and Capital One, among others. Combined, they employ tens of thousands of area workers.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

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