1. Florida Politics

New Port Tampa Bay jobs touted by Gov. Rick Scott aren't actually that new

GIBSONTON — Gov. Rick Scott came to Port Tampa Bay on Tuesday morning to announce that Tampa Tank Inc. was adding 108 new jobs.

"So congratulations on all the success," Scott said to Tampa Tank CEO David Hale during a news conference, "108 more jobs!"

However, the governor was a bit late to the party — the same announcement was made nearly seven months ago.

On Jan. 27, during his annual state of the port speech, Tampa Port Authority CEO Paul Anderson announced that Tampa Tank Inc. and its subsidiary Florida, Structural Steel Inc., was planning to add 24 jobs to its Ybor City headquarters and 84 manufacturing jobs to a refurbished facility in Port Redwing.

Since then, company officials said they've already filled 30 percent of those new jobs.

Tampa Tank officials said in January that the company would spend up to $18.3 million to expand its operations, taking over an existing 40,000-square-foot facility and building a new 120,000-square-foot building.

So why was Scott touting this news seven months after it was first announced?

The governor's office would not say. However, Tampa Tank's CEO welcomed Scott and said this was the first time their busy schedules — the governor, the company CEO and the port CEO — all meshed since the new jobs were announced months ago.

"Political schedules," Hale said. "We couldn't align them all because (Anderson) couldn't be here."

Hale said it was also important to have the company's new operations up and running for when the governor was finally able to visit.

"We were able to have some projects going other than opening the doors and having nothing going on," Hale said.

Jobs have been a priority for Scott ever since he took office in January 2011, with the self-proclaimed "jobs governor" headlining job announcement after job announcement across the state. Scott appears at these announcements — especially those in the Tampa Bay area — because many of those companies received taxpayer subsidies for creating jobs.

Tampa Tank, which designs and fabricates steel infrastructure, is no exception. During the January announcement, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. said Tampa Tank would receive up to $2 million worth of state and local incentives.

However, the use of pubic incentives in the Tampa Tank deal turned into another complication for the governor and state officials. Stephen Lawson, communications director for Enterprise Florida — the state's economic development arm — said he could not "confirm or deny" that Tampa Tank received state incentives to create jobs.

However, Tampa Tank's CEO confirmed it. So did the Tampa Hillsborough EDC. How much the state contributed to the $2 million incentive package, however, was not known.

"The governor went to Tampa Tank today to highlight the company and to join them in a public event to make this special announcement," Lawson said.

Then, about 4 p.m. Tuesday, another news release touting the "108 new jobs" created by Tampa Tank was sent out to the media — this time by Port Tampa Bay, which made the original announcement back in January.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Michael Majchrowicz at (813) 226-3374 or Follow @mjmajchrowicz.