TAMPA — Cognizant is roughly doubling its Tampa operations, pledging to add more than 400 new jobs and invest about $5.7 million here over the next four years.
The information technology and consulting business currently has more than 900 employees throughout Florida, half of them based in Tampa. With headquarters in Teaneck, N.J., Cognizant has nearly 200,000 employees worldwide.
Gov. Rick Scott announced the decision Wednesday afternoon, saying it means "400 more Floridians will be able to get a great job and provide for their families, which is a big win for Florida."
The company said the newly created positions will be for "highly skilled technology and business professionals who will provide business process services as well as application development and maintenance for U.S. corporations across the financial services, insurance and health care industries."
Adding higher-paying IT jobs in the state — particularly along the High Tech Corridor across Central Florida — has been a key focus of economic development efforts. The Tampa metro area accounts for about 20 percent of the state's IT positions, with local IT jobs growing at nearly twice the rate of average job growth, state officials have estimated.
Local development officials involved in the expansion deal said the tax incentive package used to lure Cognizant is still under confidentiality.
However, in June, Hillsborough County commissioners approved an incentive package offering local tax refunds totaling up to $494,400 for a then-unidentified IT operation in unincorporated Hillsborough if it created up to 412 higher-wage jobs.
Under the state's Qualifed Target Industry program, companies are reimbursed through tax refunds after promised jobs are created. The state typically provides 80 percent of tax refunds and local governments cover the remaining 20 percent. That indicates the maximum QTI package for Cognizant may be worth nearly $2.5 million.
Dr. Ronald Vaughn, chair of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and president of the University of Tampa, said Cognizant chose Hillsborough County over multiple options for its expansion.
"Thanks to the support of our state and local partners, Hillsborough County's reputation continues to grow as a community that is pro-business," Vaughn said.