The news could have been gloomy, because Pasco County — like everywhere else — is in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
But, as it turns out, the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc.’s final report for last fiscal year shows that the economic development agency surpassed goals in key categories, such as attracting new projects and adding new jobs.
That’s the crux of a report delivered by Bill Cronin, president/CEO of Pasco EDC, to the Pasco County Commission during its Oct. 20 board meeting.
Cronin leads the agency, whose mission is to stimulate balanced and diversified economic growth in Pasco County. It uses private investments and tax dollars to support the work it does to foster economic development — which includes attracting companies, helping business startups and helping companies to be resilient, and to grow.
Cronin told commissioners the agency won 15 projects, surpassing its goal of 12. The wins include 13 competitive projects (of which two were expansions already in Pasco that were competitive); plus, two expansion projects that were not competitive.
The agency’s final win came on Sept. 30, about 4:30 in the afternoon, Cronin reported.
“We received a commitment from a company that we’re going to be bringing to you, Nov. 17, for 875 jobs,” he said.
“That put us not only over our goal for a thousand (jobs), but a record for the most recruited jobs in any one fiscal year at 1,464 total jobs committed this year, from (competitive) wins.
“I think it’s not only significant in the sense that it was a record-breaker, but it was amidst COVID that a lot of this activity was taking place,” Cronin said.
Overall, there was $104 million in capital investment last year, exceeding the Pasco EDC’s goal of $90 million.
“We’ve got a total of 44 active projects right now,” Cronin said. That compares favorably with Jacksonville, which has 43, he added.
The majority of those active projects in Pasco’s pipeline is manufacturing.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey is enthusiastic about that.
“Those are great jobs, as you and I know,” Starkey said. “Of course, their No. 1 issue is the talent pipeline, so we are all working hard on filling that.
“Great job on those manufacturing jobs,” she told Cronin.
Obviously, shutdowns imposed by the pandemic created new challenges, and Pasco EDC has responded by becoming a resource to help businesses learn about available resources.
Besides sharing news about grants, loans and training opportunities on its website, Pasco EDC also administered a local small business grant program — that was supported through $7 million in funding approved by the Pasco County Commission, using revenues provided by Penny for Pasco for economic development.
Those receiving the grants were required to submit necessary paperwork, and to attend a two-hour refocus virtual workshop.
“We continue to focus on building resiliency, to work with our small businesses, to help them grow to get stronger,” Cronin said.
It also provided advice to some of its peers in other places, to help them handle resiliency and grants, Cronin said.
The agency’s task forces have been active, too.
The Food Hub task force was expected to present its recommendation at the end of October, and the Office and Industrial Trends Task Force plans to disseminate a report to the real estate community and developers around the nation.
The economic development agency also expects to add a real estate committee to its list of committees in 2021, Cronin said.
The agency also is forming a new task forces on reshoring — which will address the issue of bringing back manufacturing to the United States.
During the board meeting, Cronin also told commissioners about three awards his agency won in an international competition. The agency competed among communities of 500,000 or greater, and won a gold, silver and bronze award in the contest.
Pasco economic statistics for 2019-2020
Business recruitment inquiries: 102
Active projects: 44
Active projects, by category
Wholesale trade: 2
Information technology: 5
Professional scientific: 4
Company management: 2
Life science: 1
Finance and insurance: 2
Health care: 1
Transportation warehouse: 3
* (Successes include 13 competitive projects, of which two were expansions already in Pasco that were competitive, and two expansion projects that were not competitive)
Source: Pasco Economic Development Council Inc.
Pasco EDC wins international awards
The Pasco Economic Development Council Inc., has received three awards from the International Economic Development Council, in the 2020 Excellence in Economic Development Awards Program.
The local economic development agency won in these categories:
- Entrepreneurship: A gold award for its SMARTstart Pasco project
- Digital Media: A silver award for its Pasco Ready Sites Interactive Maps
- Special Purpose Website: A bronze award for WorkforceCONNECT Pasco.
The awards were presented during the International Economic Development Council Annual Conference.
Bill Cronin, president and CEO for the Pasco EDC, was obviously delighted to share the news with the Pasco County Commission, during the board’s Oct. 20 meeting.
The Pasco EDC was competing in the category for communities over 500,000.
“So that means we were competing with the New Yorks, the Houstons, the Chicagos of the world,” Cronin said. To receive the honors, he said, “is a really big deal for us.”
Published October 28, 2020