Prospect of cash entices two firms

Published May 9, 2007

DADE CITY - The governor has yet to sign off on $7.5-million in job incentives for Pasco County, and already two prospects have emerged for the money.

County Commissioner Michael Cox said Tuesday a large corporate office and a research-and-development business have been considering a location in Pasco.

Both companies, which he declined to name, are looking at the Suncoast Crossings business park at the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 54, where 1.2-million square feet of office space is possible.

Cox, a member of the Pasco Economic Development Council, said the corporate office would bring jobs with average annual pay of $82, 000, while the research company's average salary is $50, 000.

Without giving specifics, Cox said the corporate office ultimately could mean thousands of jobs.

Neither company's decision is imminent. But commissioners Tuesday helped pave the way for the research company by clarifying the rules to allow such businesses at Suncoast Crossings.

"They need clarity or they're going to lose this prospect, " Chief Deputy County Attorney Barbara Wilhite said.

Commissioners also gave the Economic Development Council the green light to seek a consultant to show the boon certain businesses could bring to Pasco, justifying the use of incentives.

The Legislature has earmarked $7.5-million to help Pasco lure high-paying jobs. The funding, which awaits Gov. Charlie Crist's approval, would be matched by $2.5-million in Pasco money.

The incentive pool was a byproduct of Pasco's failed shot in December to win a research center by drugmaker Merck and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute of Tampa.