Motion picture and publishing titan Time Warner plans to create 500 jobs in Hillsborough County over the next five years, at a facility that will provide human resource, payroll and technology support to the rest of the company.
That announcement came Tuesday from Gov. Rick Scott and Time Warner Chief Financial Officer John Martin, who appeared at the Capitol with Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Al Higginbotham and Rhea Law, chairwoman of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.
The shared services center is expected to open late next year -- although the location remains uncertain, as company officials are still deciding between existing office space in Temple Terrace, Tampa and unincorporated Hillsborough County.
A company spokeswoman said the average salary will be $57,000.
While the company will also relocate some personnel to the site, a Scott spokesman said that all 500 "created" jobs will be new and open to Florida jobseekers. The jobs will be phased in through 2016, with at least 100 jobs expected in the first year.
In return for locating in Hillsborough, the company will receive about $3 million in state and local tax incentives.
According to the governor's office, Time Warner is making a $5 million capital investment, half of which will be made prior to receiving the government incentives. Those enticements include up to $1.5 million in Qualified Target Industry funds, with $1.2 million from the state and $300,000 from the local community, in the form of tax refunds of $3,000 for every new job created, plus $900,000 from a state closing fund.
Other sweeteners: workforce training funds, plus an additional $75,000 each in incentives from Hillsborough County and City of Tampa.
Michael Hatchett, the city's Urban Development Manager, said the company would forfeit the city's portion of the money if it chooses a Temple Terrace or unincorporated Hillsborough location, the company forfeits that money.
"Obviously our preference is for them to relocate to Tampa, but being good neighbors, we recognize that when a company is planning to bring that many jobs to the region, we all win," Hatchett said. "Right now, the decision is in the company's hands."
Tampa's grant money would come from the proceeds of land sales by the city, not property tax dollars, he said. The company would begin receiving those incentive dollars in 2015.
Scott, when asked about the size of the total investment -- about $6,000 per job -- cited the property and sales tax revenues expected to result. "It will be a great return."
A spokesman for Scott added later that state analysts predict a return of at least $5.04 on every state dollar invested.
Scott, who ran for governor on a promise to create 700,000 new jobs over seven years, called the announcement "major" and "a breakthrough for our state. And it shows that we're doing the things it takes to make Florida the no. 1 place for business … making sure everybody around this country and around the world knows, this is the place that's going to be -- we're going to be open for business."
In an interview, Higginbotham called Time Warner's decision "one of the most impactful things that we've had" since the downturn of the economy.
County, city and local economic development officials started working on the deal in January, he said. "Last week, Rhea and the Mayor and I were in New York City making calls, and this is a result of the city and the county and business community working together. It's no spin; no fluff. It's just the way it is …
"You used to hear these stories about how there was a rift between the city and the county," he said. "It's over -- and the result is what you see right here."
Law agreed that the recruitment effort was largely a local one, though she said the Scott administration's focus on jobs was of great benefit.
Time Warner operates the world's largest movie and television studio -- Warner Brothers -- and the largest magazine publisher, Time Inc., as well as cable networks like CNN, TNT and HBO.
Martin said the planned facility will eliminate duplication of services across the company's various divisions, making its operations more efficient and cost-effective.
"While perhaps the shared services center may not have the same degree of glitz and glamour as the Warner Brothers studio or the CNN newsroom in Atlanta or New York, I'm here to say that it is no less important."
The Tampa Bay area ultimately beat out Atlanta as a site for the new facility, he said. All told, the company evaluated 59 cities, including Rochester, N.Y., Charlotte, Asheville and Phoenix.
Martin cited the "strength and depth" -- as well as the low cost -- of the local labor pool as primary reasons for choosing the county, along with access to local transportation and the cooperation of local leaders.
"We are really looking at this as being a true partnership," he said
Tampa is already home for a Time Warner company – Time Customer Service Inc., which is a subscription fulfillment operation for Time magazine. The success of that center, Martin said, contributed to the company's decision to locate the shared services center in Hillsborough.
Stay tuned for similar announcements from other companies in the near future, said Higginbotham, though he would not disclose any details. "That's as much as I can say right now."
Florida's unemployment rate has stalled at 10.7 percent, according to the latest August figures, above the national rate of 9.1 percent. Scott, however, said Tuesday the state has added 87,200 private-sector jobs this year.
"We need 1,400 of these announcements," the governor said of Time Warner's decision. "Any time we can add 500 jobs to the state of Florida, it's a great honor."