A deal approved last week by the Pasco County Commission is expected to have consequences far beyond the county’s borders, government and economic development leaders said.
County commissioners approved more than $25 million in incentives in an agreement with H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Hospital Inc.
The county has agreed to make infrastructure improvements necessary to access the site, at an estimated cost of $24,913,012.
It also has agreed to waive, or pay, certain county permitting and impact fees related to supporting the initial phase of building construction, at an estimated cost of $786,988.
The cancer center owns a 775-acre site, near the southeast corner of the future intersection of Suncoast Parkway and the Ridge Road extension, which is currently under construction.
In the 24-page agreement, approved unanimously by the county board, Pasco County details and justifies the partnership with Moffitt.
In part, the agreement states: “The county has concluded that providing economic incentives to Moffitt will serve as one of the most significant catalysts in the county’s history for future economic growth, by creating the potential for new employment opportunities in Pasco County, reducing reliance on regional commuting to work by citizens, significantly diversifying the tax base, and introducing smart growth and service technologies to the area.”
County staff has determined that construction of the public and non-public infrastructure outlined in the approved agreement is essential to support the overall corporate business park development of the property.
In presenting the incentive package to the county board, Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc., emphasized the significance of Moffitt’s decision to locate in Pasco.
“Words cannot fully express the magnitude of this project, or the potential of this project,” Cronin said.
In the first phase, Moffitt has agreed to construct a minimum of 128,000 square feet for corporate business park uses.
That phase is expected to generate 432 full-time jobs, according to the Pasco County Office of Economic Growth.
The multi-year, multi-phase Moffit project, however, is expected to include over 1.4 million square feet of research lab/office, light industrial/manufacturing, general office, and clinical building space.
“The overall, large project, is estimated to create at least 14,000 jobs — indirect and direct jobs for our community,” Cronin said.
Moffitt operates an internationally recognized immunotherapy program in Tampa, and is seeking to branch out because of space constraints on that campus.
David de la Parte, executive vice president and general in-house counsel for Moffitt, told commissioners: “This is a big deal. It’s a complicated transaction. It’s been a number of years in the making.
“It’s certainly important from an economic impact standpoint, but it’s even more important to the citizens of the state and to the citizens of this community,” de la Parte said.
“Cancer is a terrible thing,” he added, noting that Moffitt’s role is to be a research engine, an innovator, a place of discovery.
“We have been constrained, frankly, in that role, given the campus constraints that we have and have had. This will give us an opportunity to further accelerate the discovery,” he said.
The attorney anticipates the Pasco campus will become “a life sciences destination for the world.”
Besides approving the economic incentive agreement, the board took a separate action to direct staff to secure funding to pay for the extension of Sunlake Boulevard to the Moffitt site.
Curing cancer, creating opportunities
Pasco commissioners are delighted by Moffitt’s decision to open a Pasco campus.
“Yes, there’s the economic benefits that our citizens of Pasco County will have because of this facility being here,” County Commissioner Mike Moore said. But Moffitt’s work, he said, has impacts throughout the world.
“Each and every one of us has been touched by either somebody that’s gone through cancer or is going through cancer now,” Moore said.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said: “This is so great for your organization. It’s great for our county, but this is magnificent for the Tampa Bay region and Florida, as well.”
Commissioner Christina Fitzpatrick weighed in, too: “This will not only be an economic asset for our community, but it’s going to create jobs and it will save lives.
“You guys are going to be bringing the best of the best right here to Pasco County, and I’m very excited,” she said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano and Commission Chairman Ron Oakley were enthused, too.
Oakley told de la Parte: “We support you all of the way, and we’re here to help you.”
Along those lines, the agreement with Moffitt calls for a designated county liaison to help streamline governmental processes, and an assigned rapid response team to handle any issues that arise.
Moffitt has agreed to handle the design, permitting, installation and construction of the public and non-public infrastructure outlined in the agreement.
But before that occurs, these conditions must be met:
- Completion of the Suncoast Parkway Interchange at Ridge Road
- Completion of the Ridge Road extension in an easterly direction from the Suncoast Parkway Interchange to Sunlake Boulevard
- Completion of two lanes of Sunlake Boulevard in a southerly direction from State Road 52, south of the Ridge Road and Sunlake Boulevard intersection, to Moffitt’s spine road intersection at Sunlake Boulevard
Also, before Moffitt begins construction of the corporate business park building, the county and Moffitt will agree to a construction disbursement agreement that identifies specific sources of funds to satisfy the county’s obligations under the incentive agreement.
The conditions are expected to be met by the end of 2022.
Once they have been met, Moffitt has five years to complete the construction of the corporate business park building.
The agreement also gives the county administrator the authority to approve up to three years of extensions, if Moffitt has made good faith efforts to meet its deadline.
Published February 03, 2021