Monday, November 20, 2017
Business

Pasco economic message: Curtailing incentives is shortsighted

RECOMMENDED READING


WESLEY CHAPEL — It is a sign Viggo Nielsen has been anxious to see for more than a year. First came the fresh coat of paint on the building’s exterior, then the blue lettering on the white banner facing motorists on the Suncoast Parkway: "Now hiring.’’

Nielsen, general manager of Mettler Toledo Safeline, said the company, which manufactures food safety equipment, plans to hire 120 people for its new manufacturing plant near the parkway and State Road 54 in Lutz. That is in addition to the hundreds of positions relocating from Hillsborough County and 50 more coming from Ithaca, N.Y., where Mettler Toledo is closing its operations and consolidating into the new 250,000-square-foot building in Pasco County.

The plant plans to open in February, Nielsen revealed Nov. 1 during an economic summit at Pasco-Hernando State College’s Porter Campus in Wesley Chapel. The three-hour session, put together by the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, the college and Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Moore, was intended to focus on east Pasco. But it was one of the county’s most recent economic recruiting successes, luring Mettler Toledo’s $30 million plant to central Pasco, that helped provide a focal point for a discussion on incentives, workforce development, education and other industrial-recruiting caveats.

Panelists for the morning session included Nielsen, J.D. Porter of Wiregrass Ranch, ComPark 75 owner and auto dealer Larry Morgan, and Kartik Goyani, a Metro Development Group vice president overseeing economic development within the 7,800-acre connected city corridor project in central and east Pasco. Among the highlights:

• There was near universal disdain for the brouhaha in Tallahassee earlier this year when House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, attempted to gut Enterprise Florida’s budget to eliminate economic development incentives.

Mettler Toledo, Raymond James Financial Services, which bought 65 acres in Wiregrass, and one of Morgan’s tenants in Compark 75, the engineering firm UC Synergetic, all benefited from job-creation incentives. Corcoran characterized incentives as corporate welfare.

"Shortsighted,’’ said Nielsen.

"Pretty said, pretty disgusting,’’ said Porter,

"Incentives are a way of life across the country,’’ said Morgan.

Later, keynote speaker Jerry D. Parrish, chief economist and director of research for the Florida Chamber Foundation, echoed the sentiment, saying he hoped to "see more common sense up there (in Tallahassee) instead of bashing business.’’

• Panelists split on the importance of low tax rates. Goyani said taxes are just one piece of the information employers consider in deciding the affordability of a location while Nielsen said, "I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it’s made out to be.’’

Porter, however, said increased impact fees — one-time charges on new construction to offset infrastructure costs — could make new homes less affordable, and Morgan said higher tax rates, leading to higher rents, can play a role in determining commercial occupancy rates. "Every dollar is important to them,’’ he said.

• Bill Cronin, Pasco Economic Development president and CEO, asked the audience of 85 people to consider carefully the November 2018 constitutional amendment to increase the homestead exemption another $25,000.

Pasco County has said the amendment, if enacted, would take a combined $10 million from its general and fire department funds if property tax rates remain unchanged.

"That money has to be made up somewhere,’’ said Cronin. "It’s coming from the county.’’

Comments
Glenn Thrush, New York Times reporter, accused of sexual misbehavior

Glenn Thrush, New York Times reporter, accused of sexual misbehavior

The New York Times said Monday that it was suspending Glenn Thrush, one of its most prominent reporters, after he was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior.The move came after the website Vox published a report containing allegations that Thrus...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Florida retailers expect high holiday shopping sales

Forecast: Florida retailers expect high holiday shopping sales

Tis the season for holiday shopping, and this year is expected to be particularly kind to retailers. The Florida Retail Federation’s holiday shopping forecast predicts that a combination of high consumer confidence, strong tourism numbers and a littl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak

Tampa Electric, contractor fined $43,000 in gas leak

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Tampa Electric $18,108 and gave the company two "serious" citations for its response to a gas leak at the Big Bend Power Station in May, the agency announced late Friday.The May 23 incident invo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Most air travelers say taking off your shoes is okay. An etiquette expert disagrees

Most air travelers say taking off your shoes is okay. An etiquette expert disagrees

Unless you are ensconced in first class, sleeping on a plane is as intimate as dozing off in a waiting room on jury duty — everyone on the aircraft knows the decibel level of your snoring and the sad state of your socks.To gauge how passengers percei...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Stolen car crashes in St. Pete, leaving passenger, 15, with life threatening injuries

Two boys in a stolen car struck a dip in the roadway and crashed into a tree, leaving the 15-year-old passenger with life-threatening injuries, St. Petersburg police said.The crash occurred about 11:25 a.m. Sunday as the car sped west on 11th Avenue ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Search suspended for missing Cortez boater who left from Egmont Key

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search for a missing 63-year-old boater on Sunday evening, two days after he and his dog were reported missing 5 miles northwest of Mead Point, just inland from Anna Maria Island.On Friday, Fraser Horne of Cortez le...
Published: 11/19/17
Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

TAMPA — Avery, 6, slid his sneakers up the side of 200-pound rubber tire from the space shuttle Columbia and sat on top.His father, Ilder Jeannot, called for him to get off of it — usually climbing on museum displays is frowned upon. But in the new M...
Published: 11/18/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a ‘digital detox’

Sunday Conversation: Tona Bell invites customers to enjoy a ‘digital detox’

Like so many small businesses, Saturday will represent a special day for Paper Seahorse owner Tona Bell. Bell’s cozy bungalow business at 211 S Howard features paper and stationery, specialty pens, vintage typewriters and crafts classes. It will offe...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Published: 11/17/17
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Published: 11/17/17