When John Hagen made his quarterly report to Pasco County Commissioners earlier this year, he wasn’t sure 2013 would end on an upswing for new jobs created in the county.
But the fiscal year ended Monday, and Hagen — the president and chief executive of the Pasco Economic Development Council — has good news: More than 600 high-wage jobs have been created this year, well beyond any expectations.
And the growth was capped by Retail Process Engineering LLC moving its operations from Tampa to the Offices of Devonwood off State Road 54 in Land O’ Lakes, expected to bring 16 new jobs to the county with an average salary of $105,000.
“Things are definitely looking up,” Hagen said. “We still have some challenges, but we do feel the momentum is here as activity’s been picking up. It bodes well for the upcoming year.”
A company related to RPE purchased the 4,100-square-foot location at 20537 Amberfield Drive in April for $500,000, according to property records. The company had looked at locations in Tampa and Pinellas County as well, but realized that Pasco was a good fit, said executive vice president Rob Henneke. It didn’t hurt that he and many other people who work at RPE already lived in Pasco County.
“Certainly drive time made a difference for a number of us, as well as certain taxes and some of the incentives that Pasco County was offering,” Henneke said. “It’s certainly a more relaxed atmosphere here compared to Tampa, and we’re still what I consider to be very close to the airport, which is very important to us and our clients.”
RPE was founded in 1999 and specializes in strategic, functional and technical consulting for retail merchandising and supply chain services, primarily when it comes to information technology. The new jobs — which could earn RPE a cash incentive of up to $5,000 per new job payable over four years — would be for those who have at least 15 years of retail experience willing to take on a consultant role for the company, Henneke said.
RPE is the fourth technology company to move operations to Pasco County this past year. It joined financial services technology firm InvestCloud, security camera technology company Communication Concepts Inc., and software developer MB2x.
And there’s still room for more, Hagen said. A recent report by the EDC showed of the 7.5 million square feet of existing office space in the county, 15 percent of it — or 1.1 million square feet — is still available. That’s enough to fit six Walmart Supercenters.
“All you have to do is stand on the corner of State Road 56 and Interstate 75, or even State Road 54 and the Suncoast Parkway, and watch all the traffic every morning going south,” Hagen said. “Having commuted myself, I just realized what a drag it is. So I know there are a lot of other people out there who are trying to one way or another bring their business closer to where they live.”
RPE services clients around the country and into Canada as well in places like Toronto and Newfoundland.
“We have a very good reputation out there in the marketplace,” Henneke said. “As we are able to get the message across of who we are, we’re seeing more and more clients choosing to use our services. And with that, we’ll just keep expanding.”