Tampa flexes its muscle

July 22, 2016

Business Observer

The Tampa business community is on a summertime roll, with three major relocation and jobs announcements over eight days earlier this month.

The victories include:

St. Paul, Minn.-based Sagitec Solutions, a software developer with a niche in unemployment insurance software and related products, plans to hire 60 people in Tampa within two years, according to a statement. The company says it will manage and grow its client base in the eastern United States from Tampa. Jobs include software support specialists, software engineers, business analysts and human resources professionals;

Yacht manufacturer Bertram LLC plans to establish its global headquarters in Tampa, a move that includes 140 jobs and a $35 million capital investment in the local community. The company chose Tampa over possible locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, according to statement.

Supplemental group health insurance firm BeniComp Insurance Co. relocated its headquarters from Fort Wayne, Ind., to Tampa. The company, according to a statement, will bring nine members of its executive team to the region and hopes to hire at least three more full-time employees within 12 months.

The timing of the announcements depends on a multitude of factors, and these news nuggets are really just three of what’s normally two dozen or so similar blips a year. But economic development officials believe there are several reasons Tampa could be on the verge of a bigger breakthrough on the national scene — maybe even closer to that coveted major national headquarters relocation.

“Our story is really starting to get out there,” says Colleen Chappel, president and CEO of ad agency ChappellRoberts and chairwoman of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. “People are really starting to hear the buzz.”

That story includes Tampa’s growing tech workforce, a pro-business community and a lower cost of living compared to other markets nationwide. “This is a place CEOs want to live,” Chappell tells Coffee Talk.

More announcements on jobs and relocations are likely forthcoming, adds Michelle Bauer, vice president of marketing and communications at the EDC. The are 60-80 active projects in the pipeline, says Bauer, and some projects go back more than a year.

Looking ahead, there are some worries on the horizon — namely how all these new Tampa residents will get around. “Transportation is a continuing threat,” Chappell says. “That’s a big factor in any CEO’s decision to relocate.”