Pasco County is on the verge of adding to its mix of employment opportunities, Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc. (Pasco EDC), announced at a recent Pasco County Commission meeting.
“I anticipate you are going to have a couple of big wins here, before the end of the fiscal year, that you’ll be hearing at the board of county commissioners,” Cronin said during the Pasco EDC’s third-quarter report to the board.
“And, one of them is for 500 jobs coming up in the next couple weeks,” the economic development expert said, at the board’s Aug. 9 meeting.
Advanced manufacturing still leads the county’s project pipeline, Cronin said, noting “we still have land and we still have people.”
But another category high on the list is life sciences.
“That should be no surprise to us at all, with what we’re doing with Moffitt. That seems to be the gift that’s going to keep on giving because we have companies that all want to co-locate next to Moffitt, including another really big manufacturer looking at right next-door.”
So far, the county has had seven wins resulting in capital investment of $169.2 million and 622 new jobs, Cronin reported.
Capital investment expands the tax base, which ultimately increases property tax revenues.
“For every dollar allocated by the county in the Pasco EDC, the return on investment is almost 300 to 1,” Cronin said.
While debate continues about the state of the economy and impacts on inflation, Cronin said he and his staff are having meetings and pursuing business in other places.
“We don’t just rely on people coming to us,” said Cronin, noting the county has 96 active projects in its pipeline, compared to a normal number of about 35.
“We are busy,” Cronin said.
Board Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey told Cronin: “I was just thinking, where are those people going to live?”
As the county adds jobs, residents driving to other counties can skip that commute and work in Pasco, Cronin said.
Starkey responded: “I think we need to do a marketing campaign to promote that as much as we can. Much as I hate billboards, maybe the county should put some up: ‘Stay here, work here.’”
The board chairwoman added: “I’m hearing of companies that were going to come to the Tampa Bay area, but their employees couldn’t find housing they could afford and they’ve gone somewhere else. We’re starting to see that.”
Cronin told the board that during economic downturns, Florida fared well because it was a low-cost alternative to places like New York or New Jersey.
“We are no longer a low-cost solution, that’s for sure, especially when it comes to housing,” Cronin said.
He added: “We are still a low-tax solution, though, and business generally goes to where the tax burden is less.”
Starkey said efforts must continue to increase the supply of workforce housing — a problem that’s being experienced by communities across the country.
Besides recruiting new businesses, Pasco EDC also is engaged in a number of initiatives: to help existing businesses to expand; to help new entrepreneurs develop their businesses through incubators and workshops; to expand opportunities for international business; and to provide a source of microloans for businesses that are unable to obtain a loan.
To find out more about the Pasco EDC visit its website at PascoEDC.com.
Published August 24, 2022