John Hagen addresses Wesley Chapel chamber
By Steve Lee
WESLEY CHAPEL — Unity, marketing and taking bold risks in a troubled economy were the highlights of remarks made by the new president of the Pasco Economic Development Council to about 40 members of the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce.
John Hagen spoke Jan. 5 during a breakfast meeting at Saddlebrook Resort. It was his first public speaking engagement since becoming president of the Pasco EDC in December. Hagen previously held a similar position in suburban Phoenix.
Coming off a year plagued by double-digit unemployment and painful declines in the housing and construction industries, Hagen fostered hope by outlining a new initiative called “New Pasco.”
He highlighted the initiative’s six-point plan, which uses strategies to develop leadership, talent, workforce and products that foster economic growth. Its overall theme is “locally united, globally competitive,” Hagen said.
“I’m here really to execute it, and hopefully add to it in some way,” Hagen said of the imitative. “I love things that are new — it’s almost as good as free. We’re trying to change our community here.”
As for the immediate future, the county’s economic outlook is expected to improve by two companies that can be defined as “locally united, globally competitive.”
T. Rowe Price is building a 450,000-square-foot financial planning facility for 1,600 employees on SR 54 near the Suncoast Parkway. Dias Analytic, a high-tech corporation that helps improve air quality and reduce energy costs, plans to hire 1,000 workers after landing a $200 million contract from a firm in China.
“We’re trying to keep the best (things) we’ve done here and trying to change the things that are new and make them better,” Hagen said. “There’s a lot of neat stuff on the drawing board and it’s going to change the way people look at us.”
While most of Hagen’s observations were general and countywide, he did offer some initial impression on the Land O’ Lakes-Wesley Chapel area.
“I actually am real excited about that corridor,” Hagen said. “We have a great transportation link there, and that is a great start. I’d love to see some of the newer developments.”
Residential and commercial developments line SR 54 and the newer SR 56. And though the intersecting I-75 is congested during peak travel periods, road expansions are under way at both exits.
Hagen said that road expansions, new and improved businesses and getting residential developments back on track are the primary objectives of the EDC.
“People are going to be attracted by the success that you have here,” Hagen told chamber members.
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