Pasco County has earmarked $15 million for a revolving loan program ultimately aimed at creating more jobs.
The program seeks to encourage investors to prepare sites for development, or build shell buildings for office or industrial use, thus speeding the process for companies that want to set up shop in Pasco County.
The deadline for applications for this new loan program is Nov. 13.
The revolving loan program stems from a demonstrated need in the county, said John Hagen, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council Inc.
“We have kind of a product shortage here,” Hagen said. The lack of ready office or industrial space has resulted in missed opportunities for Pasco, he said.
“We’re getting these companies that are coming to us that are looking for a building, or they’re looking for a piece of land that they can go build something on immediately, and it’s not there,” Hagen said.
When there’s not something available in Pasco, they go looking elsewhere, he said.
“It’s really about speed to market,” Hagen said.
Investors may be willing to take the risk, but they have a hard time getting credit unless there are known tenants for the office or industrial space, Hagen said.
There also are sites that may be entitled for industrial uses, but they don’t have the proper infrastructure – such as a road leading to it, or proper utilities — to support it.
The revolving loan program is designed to offer terms that would encourage private investment.
Hagen believes there’s demand for this product, once it is demonstrated that inventory is available.
Ideally, as buildings go up or sites are prepared, new business ventures will step forward, which will allow the loans to be repaid and new loans to be issued, Hagen said
“We don’t know what the private sector ultimately will do, until somebody submits an application, but I think it’s a great tool for us. If we do a couple of them, it will hopefully stimulate other development, but also it will get revolved into other projects.”
The creation of the loan program is a result of combined efforts between Pasco County and the Pasco EDC’s Competitive Task Force.
Melanie Kendrick, acting program director for Pasco County’s Office of Economic Growth said the revolving loan program aims to set the stage for private investors to step forward.
“We know that the holding costs are going to be expensive for the property owners or the developers, and they don’t want to take the risks right now because they’re not sure whether or not that the market is going to support it, or they’re not going to be able to get somebody in there quickly enough to recoup their costs as quickly as they’d like to have a return on their own investment,” she said.
There are two parts to the county’s program.
The Pasco Accelerate Development Sites (PADS) program gets the site as close to development-ready as possible.
The PORS (Pasco Occupant Ready Shells) program provides buildings to shorten the time it takes for a company to set up in Pasco.
“They would build the building. It doesn’t have to be finished on the inside. It can be just the four walls and the roof. They can have a tenant build-out. It can be multi-tenant or single tenant,” Kendrick said.
Both programs have the same goal.
“They can get up and running quicker than if they had to start from scratch,” she said.
“The real end game here is that we want employers to move into a building and create some jobs,” Hagen said.
Pasco County officially distributes solicitation documents through the Florida Online Bid System. Solicitation documents may be downloaded at no cost.
Documents also may also be obtained from the county’s purchasing department in accordance with Florida Statutes that pertain to public records.
Published November 4, 2015