Contributor note: As can happen when assembling posts for a tabloid publication late at night after too many beers and not enough sleep, we bumbled some simple facts on this one. We appreciate an astute reader reaching out to correct us and will spend the remainder of the day in the punishment corner thinking about what we’ve done.
It wasn’t that long ago so all of you should still have PwC’s recent Tampa “scandal” fresh in your minds but in case you need a refresher: 390 PwC employees in Tampa were impacted by a restructuring which left some out of a job and others in other roles or with other companies.
PwC fired a little under 500 IT people in Tampa (moving those jobs to an outsourcing firm in India) and that pissed everyone off so to be nice, PwC decided to hire 200 new people and build a new $78 million office smack dab in the middle of Tampa (after hiring 487 employees in Florida for FY 2011). Isn’t that sweet? Well yes, it was, but that wasn’t the problem the press had an issue with. It was the fact that PwC was going to get $2 million (give or take a few pennies) in subsidies for doing it.
That didn’t go over very well (understandably) and as of yesterday, PwC had their Tampa lawyer – one Kenneth Tinkler – shoot a quick “oops, our bad” note to the mayor and city council stating they would no longer seek the $1.1 million “in incentive payments already approved by the City and County.”
Not the kind of firm to be accused of bitching out on a big deal like this, PwC will move forward with the plan to build in Tampa’s Westshore and hopes to have its entire Tampa workforce settled in there by 2013.
“I was very surprised to hear that they were turning down the incentives,” said Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern, who apparently exercised professional skepticism during the subsidy approval process. “But I am very glad that they have reiterated their intention to stay here.”
See, what happened was apparently the Tampa/Hillsborough County Economic Development Corporation got the facts wrong
PwC fudged the facts a bit when it applied for the money on PwC’s behalf (as is standard), saying it needed the incentives to keep 1,633 jobs in Tampa. At the time, Tampa City Council members and Hillsborough County commissioners didn’t actually know the unnamed financial services firm applying for the incentives was PwC. According to the St. Petersburg Times, a written application made on the firm’s behalf said it had competing offers from South Carolina, India, Singapore and Argentina. But PwC denies that it ever planned on moving any jobs out of the area. “We never considered moving those 2,000 jobs out of Tampa,” the firm’s Florida market managing partner Mario de Armas told the St. Petersburg Times.
Update: Mario later corrected his earlier statement by telling the St. Petersburg Times “PwC has openly communicated to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. that when it originally evaluated potential sites for the firm’s new Enterprise Solutions Center, the firm was considering either a short-term lease renewal in the existing building in Tampa or constructing a building in Tampa with a long-term lease commitment. Although we did not contemplate an immediate move of 2,000 jobs out of Tampa, a short-term lease arrangement inherently leaves open the long-term question as to where our Enterprise Solutions Center would be located. Instead, our decision to invest in a new building demonstrates a sustained, long-term commitment to the Tampa area. PwC was forthright and consistent in its communications with Florida’s state and local economic development officials throughout this process, and so now we are very much looking forward to our partnership with the greater Tampa community and to maintaining and potentially increasing our work force in Tampa.”
The entire letter from their lawyer is included here for your reading pleasure: