Pasco County scored two big wins last week.
First, it sealed a deal with Santander Consumer USA to set up shop in the county, and to create 875 new job opportunities in Pasco.
Second, it found a way to give new life to a vacant building, at a prominent spot.
“Since about 2016, we’ve had a very difficult time in explaining why we have this (vacant) big box building, right at the entrance of our county, at Suncoast and State Road 54,” Bill Cronin, president and CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc., said in remarks to the Pasco County Commission.
“Super Target has remained empty for four years, despite our healthy growth.
“I’m happy to say that because of the specialized need of that building and the specialized use, we do have a special company that is taking that building,” Cronin said.
Cronin and David Engel, manager of the county’s office of economic growth, explained the details of the incentive package that’s being extended to Santander to persuade it to choose Pasco County.
Efforts to land the company began several months ago, when Santander Consumer USA came to the county during a national search conducted by Newmark Knight Frank.
“The goal was to locate a modern and efficient site that could accommodate future expansions,” Cronin said.
The search went beyond finding a site, he said.
It “was also a search for sustainable talent pipeline in a community with great livability.
Santander Consumer USA will be investing $22 million in Pasco County, Cronin said.
“The company will be paying over 115% of our current county average wage,” Cronin added.
The agreement details that Pasco’s average annual wage paid to workers in all industries is $38,338, as reported by Enterprise Florida Inc., and compiled by the State of Florida, Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics.
Santander has agreed to create the 875 jobs within five years, and to pay at least $46,283 in average annual income for those jobs. To qualify for the incentive, a job must be staffed for at least one year.
Santander also will be offering career opportunities for the county’s bilingual workforce, which is expected to help the county’s Hispanic population — which makes up the county’s largest ethnic population, Cronin said.
“The economic impact to gross county product to Pasco is $129 million over the next five years,” Cronin added.
Their parent company, Banco Santander, is located in Spain, Cronin said, describing it as one of the world’s largest banks.
“If you have an automobile loan in Latin America, it’s probably from Santander,” he said.
In fact, Cronin added, “Banco Santander was named, just last week, Bank of the Year in the Americas, Brazil, Spain and Argentina, by The Banker, which is a global financial intelligence organization in London.”
Engel spelled out the terms of the economic incentive package.
“For the 875 jobs, the Pasco EDC recommends a $1,750,000 to be paid out over a 10-year period, and a 10-year tangible tax reimbursement, totaling up to $342,000,” Engel said.
Years one through five the incentive will be 50% of Santander’s tangible tax and years six through 10 will be 25% of their tangible tax, he added.
“This, in fact, is the most cost-effective job creation incentive that we’ve offered a company. It’s equivalent to $391 a job,” Engel said.
The incentive agreement notes that Santander intends to make interior and exterior renovations of 115,425 square feet of the old Target store, at 16400 State Road 54, in Odessa.
Backup materials for the board’s agenda item note: “The staff recommendation to
approve the tangible tax reimbursement in this case is based on the unique aspects of this project since it involves the redevelopment and occupancy of a former “big box” retail building by a qualified target industry, at significant expense, in one of the county’s most important high visibility economic growth and job creation corridors.”
It adds: “The recommended tax reimbursement incentive in this case should not be considered a precedent for reimbursement for interior improvements that may be made by other companies in the future, even if such companies qualify for a job creation incentive or are a qualified target industry.”
Background materials in the agreement note that Santander qualifies as a targeted industry, in the financial services sector.
A table in the agreement lays out the company’s plans to gradually add the 875 employees, beginning with 400 in 2021, with a total of 875 by 2025.
Ernie Ocasio, a senior vice president of Santander Consumer USA, told county officials that the company is eager to come to Pasco, and praised the county’s rich resources.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey remarked that she had been so upset about news of the Super Target’s closing that she had appealed to company officials to try to keep it open. It turns out that this new use is better for the county than having a big retailer at that location, the commissioner said.
Commissioners unanimously approved Santander’s incentive package.
What: Santander Consumer USA is setting up shop in Pasco County
Where: On State Road 54, near the Suncoast Parkway, in the old Super Target location
Detail: The company plans to hire 875 workers in the next five years.
When: The company plans to begin hiring in 2021.
Published December 16, 2020