Ashley Furniture, Inspirata choose Tampa for new headquarters

July 8, 2015

Two significant projects were announced in Tampa in May, adding more than 170 new high wage headquarter jobs in e-commerce and life sciences.   Ashley Announcement WebWhy Tampa?   “It’s where Millennials want to be,” said Ashley Furniture Industries CEO Todd Wanek at a press conference announcing the establishment of its U.S. e-commerce headquarters in Tampa’s Ybor City.   Ashley Furniture is the world’s largest furniture manufacturer. Ashcomm LLC, Ashley’s wholly owned subsidiary, will occupy 70,000 square feet of space in Centro Ybor in the heart of Tampa’s historic business and entertainment district. It will house more than 100 employees in executive, administrative, marketing, design, and information technology positions for both the e-commerce business as well as other Ashley corporate operations.   Ashley’s new e-commerce headquarters facility is expected to spur growth and renewal in the historic district and become a hub for thousands of annual visitors, including employees, retailers, vendors and customers from all over the world.   “We found everything we were looking for here: a rich supply of local e-commerce professionals, the perfect building to house our e-commerce headquarters as well as other retail operations, and the opportunity to contribute to the revitalization of Ybor City,” Wanek said. He noted that the Ybor City location is ideal for attracting top design and technology talent to serve the growing e-commerce retail market.   Ashley’s arrival is the culmination of efforts by Wanek and his father, Ron, Ashley’s chairman, as well as local officials and developers to convert the Centro Ybor location into a well-rounded mixed use development with a variety of tenants. The company is converting half of the existing Muvico Theater’s 20 screens to headquarter office and training space. The theater will continue operations with 10 screens.   The adaptive re-use project is expected to be completed by year-end and will involve approximately 30 direct subcontractors and 100 suppliers. Approximately 300 people employed by local businesses will be directly involved in the project.   Biotech gets a boost   On May 18, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced the launch of Inspirata, Inc.’s global headquarters in Tampa. The biotech company is focused on disruptive innovation in cancer diagnosis, expediting the process by streamlining and automating pathology workflows. Satish Sanan, the successful serial entrepreneur behind the venture, is investing $25 million for research and development at the Tampa headquarters, which will create 70 new jobs paying an average salary of $86,000.   Inspirata’s founding was the result of an encounter in May 2013 at the MediFuture 2023 Conference, an event produced by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation to help position Tampa as the epicenter of disruptive innovation in the health care industry. Sanan heard a presentation by Mark Lloyd, the scientist in charge of Moffitt Cancer Center’s Analytic Microscopy Core Laboratory. Sanan was intrigued by Lloyd’s work in the area of digital pathology and computational image analytics. Soon after their initial meeting, Sanan and Lloyd partnered to commercialize a range of cancer diagnostics solutions. Two years later, after assembling a team of leading scientists and technologists and cementing a key partnership with Philips, the global health care imaging and informatics leader, Inspirata completed its formal market launch at the 2015 United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) Annual Conference.   “While we initially investigated other locations, Tampa really was our top choice when considering a location for Inspirata’s corporate headquarters, especially given the fact that the State of Florida and Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation were so supportive in helping us locate here,” said Sanan, Inspirata’s chairman and CEO. “From a pure economic standpoint, Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa are great places to launch a company because they’re so business friendly. Then, of course, there are all of the added benefits like being less than 15 minutes from one of the country’s best international airports, and having access to high-quality graduates from the outstanding universities and colleges in the area. Finally, but not the least of our considerations, was the fact that the core group of employees joining Inspirata have all lived in the greater Tampa Bay area for many years. Since this is our home, we have a vested interest in seeing the area prosper economically.”   Florida has firmly established itself as a hub for the life sciences. The state is home to some of the nation's most highly regarded research centers, over 1,000 biotech, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies, and more than 45,000 health care establishments.   The Tampa Hillsborough EDC has launched an aggressive campaign to recruit headquarter operations to the region. To learn more about the advantages of moving or establishing a corporate headquarters here, please contact Rick Homans, president and CEO, at or 813-518-2620.