$45 million dollars earmarked for economic development in Pasco County

April 29, 2014

Excerpt originally printed in The Laker (4/24/14):

"Penny for Pasco starts a new round of funding in January, using an extra 1 percent sales tax to provide nearly $50 million in additional annual funding for Pasco County projects over the next decade."

"This time, however, nearly 10 percent of funds — or $4.5 million — has been earmarked toward economic development. And if spent the right way, leaders from the independent Pasco Economic Development Council say the impact of those funds could be tremendous, bringing new commercial parks and maybe even a convention center to Pasco County."

"'It should create jobs and it should grow the economy,' PEDC president and chief executive John Hagen recently told Pasco County commissioners during a workshop. 'If it doesn’t do that, then it’s not economic development. That means attracting businesses that actually bring money into the community.'"

"Of course, $4.5 million each year might not be the best way to accomplish that goal, Hagen said. But $36 million all up front? That can go a long way."

"'We think it’s important to use leverage,' he said. 'We’d rather get some of that revenue upfront now, so that we can get more of an impact over the 10-year period, rather than wait. We need jobs and we need economic development now.'"

"That could mean borrowing up to 80 percent of the projected revenue over the next 10 years, and using revenue from those projects — or simply funds from Penny for Pasco itself — to pay it back."

"If commissioners were to take that route, the county could take the lead in attracting new businesses to Pasco, instead of losing them to neighbors like Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. That starts with a business park project, assembling land together somewhere in the county and earmarking all of it for commercial use."

It continues with speculation building — helping developers construct commercial space..."

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