Plant City is ready to take its seat at the increasingly crowded economic development table.
The Plant City Economic Development Corp. was created on Tuesday. It is a public-private partnership and will be led initially by Randy Larson, its first chair.
"Plant City has come of age and is ready for this kind of initiative," said Larson, a retired engineer, on Tuesday afternoon. "This community felt like it was time to put a whole lot more emphasis on economic development."
The move comes on the heels of St. Petersburg's announcement that it is creating an EDC, too, to chase corporate relocations. Add these two projects to the pending rebirth of the Tampa Bay Partnership and there are about to be three new executives in town focused on economic development.
Plant City's new venture will not affect funding for the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., according to CEO Rick Homans. The municipality is still a member of the Tampa EDC at the executive committee level of $25,000. The city's commitment to the new Plant City EDC is $150,000.
The new agency has commitments from about 40 private investors of more than $150,000 to help tip the EDC to a private model.
"It's another $300,000 in Hillsborough County economic development and it is coming at exactly the right time," Homans said on Tuesday. "Plant City has its own economic ecosystem in a lot of ways. [The new EDC] allows us to be even more focused and more targeted."
The Tampa Hillsborough EDC has put a special emphasis on drawing a corporate headquarters to the county during the past year. Homans went before the county commission in September to outline what kind of feedback his team is getting as it recruits. The kind of partnership both EDCs envision could help Homans in the ambitious headquarters effort.
The new PCEDC has about 15 voting members at the $5,000+ commitment level and another 25 at the non-voting level of $2,500+, Larson said.
As for goals on his first day as chairman, Larson said he needs to find a CEO and some office space in downtown Plant City.