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  1. Business

Tampa snags Johnson & Johnson corporate services headquarters with 500 jobs

TAMPA — Johnson & Johnson, the giant pharmaceutical company best known for its Tylenol and Band-Aid brands, on Thursday said it has picked Tampa as its headquarters to house key corporate services including finance, human resources and information technology.

As part of the deal, the company will create 500 jobs averaging at least $75,000 over the next three years and make a capital investment of $23.5 million into the Tampa region. In exchange, Johnson & Johnson becomes eligible for state and local incentives of up to $6.37 million the company would receive — once it delivers on the promised jobs and wages.

Snagging Johnson & Johnson, one of America's elite and best-known corporations, ranks among the top corporate recruitments to Tampa Bay in at least the past decade. And it sets the stage perfectly, area economic developers say, for this region's next ambitious goal: convincing a Fortune 500 company to relocate its headquarters here.

Tampa beat out at least two out-of-state cities that the company also was considering.

"Tampa offers everything Johnson & Johnson needs to attract and retain the best talent for their new North American shared services headquarters," an enthusiastic Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in announcing the deal. "Our city has become a magnet for well-educated millennials, and our lifestyle and business climate can't be beat. Johnson & Johnson made the right choice in choosing Tampa, and we look forward to supporting their growth here for decades to come."

Successfully competing for a major expansion by Johnson & Johnson, the 37th largest corporation on the Fortune 500, is a regional coup. Fortune also ranks the company No. 11 on its 2015 list of the "World's Most Admired Companies" and Johnson & Johnson tends to rank high on most tabulations of large and well run corporations.

But that's not all to celebrate. Tampa and Hillsborough County are enjoying a lengthy series of job recruiting successes in recent years that have brought such powerhouse corporations as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amazon and Ashley Furniture and thousands of jobs to the area. And many large companies already here — long-established Citigroup, for example, is adding 1,200 more jobs averaging $75,000 this year — also are expanding as the economy strengthens.

Johnson & Johnson had been hunting for more than a year for the right spot. The Tampa Bay Times initially reported in February that the New Jersey-based company was exploring this market.

The initial lead that Johnson & Johnson was on the hunt for its shared services headquarters — an under-one-roof site for such core services as finance, human resources, information technology and procurement functions – was funneled from Enterprise Florida, the state's job recruiting arm, to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

One major recruitment begets another, suggested Rick Homans, CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and a key player in growing the area's pipeline of job recruitment.

"I will tell you one of the lessons from this," Homans said in an interview, "is how powerful one success can be. I know that when Bristol-Myers Squibb put their North American Capability Center here it made a big impression on Johnson & Johnson." Drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb opened its site in 2014 near Tampa International Airport after analyzing 50 competing metro areas. That facility does much of what the Johnson & Johnson site will do.

There may be more to come. A group of Tampa Bay business leaders — including Homans and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik — is planning a headquarters recruitment trip to New Jersey and New York next month. You can bet they'll be flaunting the Johnson & Johnson move as another good reason to relocate to Tampa.

Johnson & Johnson has leased 111,000 square feet of space on the first five floors of 100 Hidden River Corporate Center One near E Fletcher Avenue and I-75, making it one of the top five largest new office leases in Hillsborough over the past five years and the second largest (behind Citigroup) this calendar year.

The company expects the headquarters to be up and running by mid 2016. It's not clear yet how many of the jobs will be filled by relocating employees and new hires here.

"We currently have a strong presence in Florida, and this new site will continue to build on the successes that our businesses have already achieved across the state," said Erin Champlin, vice president of Johnson & Johnson Global Services. "We look forward to increasing our presence in the state and within the Tampa community."

Local leaders praised the high-wage deal.

"Hillsborough County's high concentration of exceptionally skilled life sciences, information technology and finance professionals provides an ideal workforce mix for Johnson & Johnson's North American shared services headquarters," Hillsborough County Commission Chairwoman Sandra Murman said.

Here's how the nearly $6.4 million incentive package for Johnson & Johnson breaks down:

In March, Hillsborough County commissioners and the Tampa City Council approved a combined local incentive package of $1.47 million supporting a commitment of $4.9 million from the state through its Quick Action Closing Fund program. The total state and local allocation of $6.37 million are performance-based incentives, meaning the company can receive the money only after it has created the new, high-wage positions.

Not all incentive deals with expanding companies in Florida have worked out as planned.

Johnson & Johnson already operates various businesses in Jacksonville and South Florida. In 1980, the company created and ran a Tampa subsidiary called Critikon that provided patient blood monitoring services. The business was sold off in 1998.

Times staff writer Cameron Saucier contributed to this report. Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

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