Pasco County leaders are ready to embark on a major rebranding campaign to improve the county's image, both nationally and internationally, and to attract high-paying jobs that could transform the county from a bedroom community into an equal player in the region.
Commissioners spent Monday afternoon reviewing the county's economic development strategies in light of the voters' decision in November to extend the Penny for Pasco tax through 2024. For the first time, the county will dedicate a percentage of the tax, estimated to be $45 million over the 10-year life of the tax, for economic development.
Growth Management Administrator Richard Gehring said that having a clear strategy and a constant revenue stream can help set up the county for an economic boom.
"If we're successful at this, we can be selective," Gehring said. "We don't have to take everything that comes down the track. We want to get the better job. We want to get the higher investment. We want to get the thing that leverages the next investment."
The rebranding would begin with renaming each of the county's five market areas to better define their unique qualities. The coastal area and U.S. 19 corridor, including the cities of Port Richey and New Port Richey, become the "Harbors" market. The southernmost market, which stretches along the Pinellas and Hillsborough county lines and State Road 54, would be called the "Gateway Crossings" market. It is the future home of T. Rowe Price, which expects to start construction on a new campus in 2014.
"This market area between the interstate corridor and Suncoast (Parkway) — that's our future West Shore," Gehring said. "It's really a dynamic area."
The Central Pasco market, which is more suburban, will be renamed the "Midlands," while the rural northern market will be dubbed "Countryside." East Pasco's market will be rechristened the "Highlands," after its hilly terrain.
County Planner Melanie Kendrick said increased rail activity will drive industrial growth in East Pasco, especially around the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport. "You're going to start seeing a major change in demand," she said. "It's happening a lot faster than you think."