By staff writer

January 2019 – 2 min. read

Located in the northern stretch of Tampa Bay, Pasco County has historically been resigned to the rank of bedroom community for nearby Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Nearly 50 percent of Pasco’s population commutes south every day to the region’s largest cities, Tampa and St. Petersburg. However, Pasco has had a successful run as of late, and developments have been underway to turn the county into a prominent economic engine and job creator in its own right.

As the Tampa Bay Times recently reported, “Over the past four years, the county and the economic development council have used a portion of the Penny for Pasco sales tax proceeds to prime the pump for business relocations. Among other things, they have loaned money for speculative office buildings and sought site-ready property for potential industrial use.”

Bill Cronin, CEO of the Pasco County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), has taken the lead in promoting the expansion of local business and economic development in the county. He brings with him an arsenal of insider knowledge about economic development, having worked in four other emerging markets prior to his current appointment. Invest: Tampa Bay recently spoke with Cronin about the role the EDC agenda has played in this renaissance.

Pasco County had a long-standing reputation as a difficult place to do business, Cronin says. When he first arrived in the Tampa Bay area, most businesses in the region were averse to cutting deals with the county, but the new local leadership has been integral in the shifting economic tides.

“We have the most pro-business county commission that we’ve ever had,” Cronin says. The EDC now gets near unanimous support from all five county commissioners on policy changes designed to promote new and existing businesses, as well as competitive advantages for the area. “In order to be more competitive, we have been focusing on product development and workforce development.”

Cronin notes that Pasco County is one of the few counties in Florida that has both available land and an available workforce. Most other regions have one or the other. “In order to better position ourselves,” he told Invest:, “we hired a consultant to help evaluate and certify land for industrial development. Over the last year, we identified over 1,265 acres of ‘ready sites’ to recruit industry.”

More housing for a growing workforce is great, but under Cronin’s leadership, the Pasco EDC is about business development first and foremost. “We have more rooftops permitted in Pasco County than the market might require. I know everyone has to live somewhere, but what I want to see is more of this land being utilized for job creation activity,” he says.

The Pasco EDC is actively working to recruit companies, but Cronin makes sure that his team is focusing day-to-day operations on working with and expanding existing businesses to help them become more competitive. “We’re probably the only EDC that owns and operates its own business incubators.”

Officials and developers in Pasco County are hoping that recently proposed changes to the land-use plan will facilitate more growth in commercial business parks alongside residential construction. Invest: Tampa Bay will be monitoring the action closely.

For more information on Bill Cronin at the Pasco County Economic Development Corporation, please visit: http://pascoedc.com/