Economic Development - Charting a New Course
To achieve meaningful economic development the Greater Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce will administer the newly formed Zephyrhills Economic Development Coalition (ZEDC.) a strategic partnership of the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Zephyrhills, Main Street Zephyrhills and Pasco Economic Development Council.
ZEDC seeks to align strategies and streamline resources of local and county-wide partners in economic development. The City of Zephyrhills supports this effort with grants to each founding partner while each partner offers expertise, knowledge, professional staff and volunteer resources to carry out programs specific to the mission of the ZEDC.
While the city's very location -- in the middle of an impressive framework of highways, rail lines, a major sea port and several airports -- makes it a desirable area to grow a business, the city also has passed ordinances meant to entice new businesses and industries with attractive incentives.
The city boasts highly competitive prices for real property, previously-approved development parks and public facilities that meet the needs of the business community.
By creating an economic development fund, the city is in position to pay all or part of a business' impact fees; pay the impact fees and defer reimbursement for a maximum of three years, as well as paying the carrying charges associated with new construction. The city council may also issue revenue bonds to finance projects, assign city staff to work with business leaders on their projects and reimburse companies for job training.
Zephyrhills is Open for Business and the Chamber of Commerce invites businesses seeking to relocate, expand, or promote their business to contact the Chamber of Commerce Business & Visitors Concierge desk.
Companies interested in job training may consider several institutions in the area. Pasco-Hernando Community College has two locations in Pasco County, including one in nearby Dade City and another planned to open in Wesley Chapel, both just 20 minutes from Zephyrhills; there also is a PHCC campus in Brooksville, just north in Hernando County. Additionally, the East Pasco office of Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board is located in the heart of Zephyrhills on Gall Blvd.
Saint Leo University, a private institution with a picturesque campus is located in San Antonio about 20 minutes from Zephyrhills. The University opened the Donald R. Tapia School of Business in 2011, a modern and state-of-the-art 47,000 square foot building on campus. The School of Business offers a complete menu of business concentrations with on campus as well as on-line Bachelor's and MBA programs. Graduate certificate programs are also offered in accounting, health care management, marketing and information security. The sprawling University of South Florida campus is a 30 minute drive south of Zephyrhills, while the University of Tampa is within an hour from town.
City leaders also work with Pasco County officials on deals that will be advantageous to the area, and the businesses looking to move here.
The county has had recent success. In 2011, Pasco County commissioners approved incentives that brought Raymond James Financial to Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel, just 15 minutes west of Zephyrhills. Wiregrass Ranch is an immense property that currently houses The Shops at Wiregrass, an 800,000-square-foot open-air mall off State Road 56, and Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, scheduled to open in 2012.
The incentive package that enticed Raymond James includes an estimated $10 million in road improvements, tax breaks and other financial perks. Just under half the amount will go toward road upgrades; Wiregrass Ranch Boulevard is a planned major north-south connector between State Roads 54 and 56. The state has also agreed to spend $4 million to build the main access road to the 65-acre site.
In addition, the county waived water and sewer connection fees for company's office buildings.
In return, Raymond James will build two office buildings and bring 750 jobs.
The county also has had recent success in luring investment giant T. Rowe Price to Land O' Lakes, just west of Wesley Chapel. The company has purchased a 90-acre parcel, where a 450,000-square-foot facility is expected to eventually employ 1,600 workers. T. Rowe Price will receive $30 million in local and state economic incentives if its first building is built by 2015.