Pasco County continues to attract manufacturers seeking a place to set up shop, and is heading into a new fiscal year that will show an increased focus on supporting workforce development efforts.
Those were some key take-aways in a report delivered by Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council (EDC), to the Pasco County Commission.
Cronin briefed the board on results from the Pasco EDC’s work during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which wrapped up recently.
Overall, Pasco’s business recruitment and development efforts are going well, based on Cronin’s presentation.
“Our goal was 14 wins this year. We got 11.
“But if you look at the numbers — what came with that — our goal for capital investment was $100 million. We ended up with $240 million of new capital investment in Pasco County, and over 1,200 jobs.
“When I look around the state at some of the other counties and how they did, we’re trending with some of the big counties in South Florida. And, it’s really because we’ve got the product, we’ve got the people and we’ve got great leadership here,” Cronin said.
“Manufacturing still tends to be one of our leading sectors because we are still one of the only places that has land, and people. That is rare in Florida,” Cronin said.
Cronin said that the Pasco EDC’s Ready Sites program puts the county in a competitive position for attracting companies.
That program involves assessing, evaluating and certifying large tracts to prepare them for industrial development.
The Pasco EDC then markets those sites nationally at trade shows and conferences, as well as on the economic development organization’s website (PascoEDC.com).
The strategy appears to be working.
“We’re still continuing to get great looks on Ready Sites. This has become one of the programs that now has gotten the attention of the surrounding counties because they don’t have land.
“A lot of them (Ready Sites) are now coming to you, with projects attached. So, it worked. We needed the (site-ready) product,” Cronin said.
That program is just one example of Pasco EDC’s arsenal of tools.
“We’re still out calling on companies. We’re still hitting events. We’re still working with our partners, like AmSkills and workforce training partners,” Cronin said.
Other activities include attending conferences locally, nationally and internationally to not only pitch Pasco as a place to do business, but to share information about Pasco EDC programs, too, Cronin said.
The private nonprofit organization receives financial support from both private investors and from taxpayer revenues, through programs supported by Penny for Pasco.
It works closely with Pasco County’s Office of Economic Growth.
During the past fiscal year, Pasco EDC had 91 private investors and brought in $715,000 in private funding to help cover economic development expenses, Cronin said.
The return on investment from public spending on economic development is 146 to 1, he added.
“So that means for each public dollar you give Pasco EDC to put in programs, the gross county product that comes out of that is 146 times the amount of public funds going in,” he explained.
Cronin also offered a statistical breakdown of the project pipeline, by industry:
- Advanced manufacturing: Five wins, 34 active projects, 20 leads
- Logistics and distribution: One success, 12 active projects, 25 leads
- Life sciences and medical technology: One success, 13 active projects, six leads
- High Technology: Two wins, 16 projects, nine leads
- Business and professional services: Two successes, seven projects, one lead
- Aerospace aviation and defense: Seven active projects, two leads
In marketing the county’s strengths, Cronin said his team Is partnering more frequently with the county’s tourism staff.
“Quality of place has become very important, post-COVID, so, you’ll see us doing more things together,” he said.
Pasco also is looking toward trade missions and foreign-direct investments, Cronin said, as international efforts are becoming more active as people begin traveling again.
For instance, Florida Avenue Brewing in Wesley Chapel received a scholarship to go on a trade mission with Enterprise Florida to Panama, Cronin said. “We hope they get some sales.”
Pasco County Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey has a keen interest in international trade.
She told her board colleagues: “We’re talking about doing a Pasco International Day, and I’m thinking we’ll do something here at the board meeting in February. And then we’ll have an event the following Wednesday night with all of our international partners in the county.”
Cronin noted: “That will be business and culture, as well.”
The economic development leader also said he expects Pasco EDC’s efforts to continue strengthening in the area of helping employers meet their workforce needs.
“I think going forward for this next year, you’re going to see us really doubling down for emphasis on startups and emphasis on the talent pipeline.
The county still needs to come up with 14,000 jobs to work at Moffitt Cancer Center’s Pasco campus —some of whom haven’t even been born yet, Cronin said. “And, that’s just for the Moffitt piece of it.”
Published December 07, 2022