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Politics

Hillsborough OKs millions to lure Amazon, mystery company


Published:   |   Updated: July 18, 2013 at 06:48 AM

TAMPA - Hillsborough County commissioners approved more than $2 million in financial incentives for an unnamed pharmaceutical company offering to create 567 jobs in the county.

Commissioner also gave final approval to more than $913,000 in tax exemptions for the next six years to encourage online retailer Amazon.com to build a $200 million warehouse in southern Hillsborough. The incentive will cut the warehouse's tax bill by half.

Commissioners voted 6-0 to approve $694,800 in job-creation tax refunds for the unnamed pharmaceutical company. The county would also pay more than $1.4 million toward the state's Quick Action Closing Fund to help bring the company to Hillsborough.

The incentives are a portion of the package the unnamed company would get over seven years starting in 2015. The state of Florida would pay $6.2 million in installments over the same period.

Commission Chairman Ken Hagan that both incentive packages are offers to lure the companies. Neither would get money unless they produce the jobs they say they will, Hagan said.

"For modest investment and no upfront dollars, we're receiving an extraordinary return on investment," Hagan said.

He said Amazon would be the fourth company lured to Hillsborough County by economic incentives in recent years.

"This program is allowing us to aggressively compete with other jurisdictions across the state and country," he said.

Commissioner Sandy Murman said the Amazon project, which has yet to be formalized, would be a boon for Ruskin and southern Hillsborough County.

Last month, commissioners approved $225,000 to Amazon over seven years if it creates 375 jobs here that pay more than Florida's average wage. The state will kick in $900,000.

As with the pharmaceutical company, the payments would be in cash each year Amazon meets its job-creation target.

Gov. Rick Scott announced last month he had reached a deal to bring the online retail giant to Florida, where it seeks to invest $300 million and create 3,000 jobs. The same day, Hillsborough officials said the South Shore Corporate Park at the County Road 674 exit off Interstate 75 was a potential location.

Other local governments in Florida including Polk County have moved to lure Amazon with incentive packages.

Hillsborough County is seeking state help to pay $2.5 million toward road improvements the site would need.

In all, Hillsborough officials say, Amazon would create 1,000 jobs, with 375 of them paying an average of $47,581.

"The project is certainly worth it," Murman said. "We have high levels of accountability now. If they don't produce the jobs, they don't get the money."

kwiatrowski@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7871

Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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