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Manufacturers to bring 428 jobs to Tampa Bay

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Published:   |   Updated: November 22, 2013 at 09:57 AM

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay area scored two big manufacturing wins Thursday, with the announcements that a General Electric subsidiary will add 263 jobs in Clearwater and medical device company Covidien will add 165 in Riverview.

The Bay area has seen a series of welcome job announcements lately, including recent expansions by the likes of Amazon, insurer USAA and drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb. That Thursday’s announcements involved manufacturers — which are among the most prized of employers — has economic development leaders tickled.

“When you can win a manufacturing project that also has significant capital investment with it, that’s putting some good roots in the community,” said Rick Homans, chief of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., which helped lure Covidien. “They’re making a serious investment in being here.”

Clearwater’s good fortune comes at the expense of upstate New York. According to an Associated Press report, GE is closing a plant in Fort Edward, N.Y., that makes electrical devices called capacitors. A labor union there proposed saving the plant by cutting 10 percent of the workforce, but GE decided it could still save more money by relocating the jobs to Clearwater, the AP article said.

GE already has 463 jobs at its subsidiary Instrument Transformers Inc. in the Hercules Avenue industrial area, and Thursday’s announcement will boost that by another 263 jobs. The company also will invest $49 million in expanding its Clearwater site.

Clearwater lured the company in part with a big tax exemption. The company has applied for a 75-percent tax break over 10 years on the assessed value of any additions to the existing facility, Clearwater Economic Development Director Geri Lopez said.

The tax savings could vary by the end of that period, but Lopez estimates the company will save about $1.4 million. The Clearwater City Council must approve the exemption at its Dec. 5 meeting.

The move is among the biggest manufacturing expansions in Clearwater in several years, and GE is the first company to take advantage of the tax incentive.

“This is our first big win from that,” Lopez said

Across the bay, Hillsborough leaders were celebrating the promised creation of up to 165 new jobs by medical manufacturer Covidien. Unlike the GE announcement, Covidien isn’t relocating jobs to Riverview from somewhere else.

Covidien is an Irish company that was once part of the scandal-plagued conglomerate Tyco International. It makes a wide range of products from high-tech brain-monitoring machines to wound-care dressings. It already has added a small staff in east Hillsborough County’s Sabal Park area and expects to move into an existing 62,200-square-foot facility in Riverview by mid-2014, a news release from Gov. Rick Scott’s office said.

The release didn’t list an exact location, but a list of major commercial real estate deals issued by the Cushman & Wakefield firm shows Covidien is moving into the Oak Creek Commerce Park on Eagle Palm Drive. A commercial Realtor who worked on the deal for the CBRE real east firm was unable to comment Thursday.

Covidien’s new facility is expected to mean a capital investment of $18 million and the creation of 165 jobs by 2017, the governor’s news release said.

The state and Hillsborough County offered the company $825,000 in tax incentives through a program called the Qualified Target Industry program. Of that, $165,000 is expected to come from the county, with the rest coming from the state, a Tampa Hillsborough EDC news release said.

Homans, the EDC chief, said Hillsborough beat out governments from Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas to lure Covidien. Company spokeswoman Lisa Clemence said the company chose Hillsborough because of its overall positive business climate, its local workforce and the presence of other medical device companies in the region.

In fact, the Bay area is known for its medical device industry, especially Pinellas County. Geary Havran, chairman of the industry group the Florida Medical Manufacturers Consortium, said there are more than 200 such companies in the Bay area and combined those companies employ at least 10,000 people. About two-thirds of the region’s medical device companies are in Pinellas, Havran said.

Tribune reporter Josh Boatwright contributed to this report.

msasso@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7865

Twitter: @msasso

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