Tallahassee jobs scorecard: Labor Day hitlist of known, confidential projects in the pipeline

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Will Tallahassee hit an ambitious goal of creating more than 18,000 new jobs by 2030?

Business and economic development officials are pushing the lofty target and point to several recently announced projects as examples of a path forward. At the same time, a dozen leads that have been given confidential codenames could further move the jobs needle.

The biggest win remains Amazon, which began as Project Mango with economic development managers working to seal the deal. It promises to generate 1,000 new jobs with its new robotics fulfillment facility now under construction.

The company’s announcement last year prompted many to say Tallahassee was turning the page toward a new economic development chapter.

As the nation marks Labor Day, the Tallahassee Democrat is taking stock of the projects expected to bring jobs to the capital city.

Six big projects that will bring more than 200 jobs to the Tallahassee area

Within the next few years, several projects are slated to generate 200 or more jobs once complete, including high-wage jobs rooted in research and technology.

Nearly 650 jobs are projected to be generated at the North Florida Innovation Labs, the region’s first high-technology business incubator located at Innovation Park.

Jobs at the $25 million lab will be twofold, said Bill Lickson, director at the North Florida Innovation Labs.

“We’ll have a variety of jobs at the lab for folks running the facility, providing training for the programs, both direct employees and contract services like lab techs, lab maintenance and IT security,” he said.

“Then there will be the actual companies that will go into the lab,” he continued. “The lab will support more than 100 companies when you look at that facility and the related facilities in the park.”

During a recent presentation at the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, NAI TALCOR President Ed Murray discussed several major projects that are slated to generate major job growth in Tallahassee.

Here’s a snapshot of those projects:

Amazon Fulfillment Center

Job Count – 1,000

Project Description  – Amazon operates 13 fulfillment centers statewide in Florida; Tallahassee’s facility will be the 14th. The 635,000-square-foot robotics fulfillment center is under construction and located off Mahan Drive near Interstate 10.

It’s to cost $200 million, making it the largest single investment by the private sector in Tallahassee’s history. While Amazon is also slated to build a second facility in Tallahassee that will be a smaller, last-mile facility, not much is known about the project at this time, including how many jobs it could bring.

North American Aerospace Industries

Job Count – 985

Project Description  – The $110-million project allows the company to build a domestic site on 57 acres for aircraft teardown and recycling at the Tallahassee International Airport. Airport officials say negotiations are still underway to lock in the project, however, there was plenty of optimism as they announced the project before the City Commission.

Burrell Aviation Tallahassee

Job Count – 738 Jobs

Project Description  –  A $35-million proposal by Burrell Aviation Tallahassee, LLC and Flightline Development Corporation, Inc. for the lease and development of airport property and facilities at the Tallahassee International Airport.

North Florida Innovation Labs

Job Count – 650

Project Description  –  A regional first, the $24-million facility will be located within Innovation Park. It’s geared toward startups and growing technology companies that need specialized lab facilities to commercialize and grow their innovations. The 40,000 square-foot facility is slated to be complete by 2024.

FSU Health Tallahassee Center at TMH

Job Count – 350 jobs

Project Description –  A partnership between Florida State University and Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare will create a new medical research and healthcare center. The FSU Health Tallahassee Center at TMH is slated to be a five-story, 130,000 square-foot building between Midtown and Capital Circle.

Danfoss Turbocor

Job Count – 240

Project Description  – Dubbed as Project Juggernaut, the expansion project calls for adding a new 90,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing, research and development facility off Paul Dirac Drive in Innovation Park. It’s the latest expansion effort by Danfoss Turbocor, the world’s leading producer of oil-free compressors.

A sneak peek at the pipeline of confidential projects

At the same time as those projects move forward, the Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality is working on more than a dozen active projects that they have deemed confidential. However, most seem to be on a far smaller scale than the declared projects.

Several are research-based, including at least one that will be a partnership with the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University, better known as the Mag Lab.

Another active effort called “Project Guard” is rooted in manufacturing and based on a company overseas that’s interested in finding a location in the United States.

“They’re working on a research project to update their designs for U.S. requirements,” said Kevin Gehrke, OEV’s business development manager for applied science. “They are working with one of our local research institutions here to make that conversion.”

OEV uses several approaches to determine whether a business or corporation’s plans are suitable to become a confidential project.

The department may be contacted by a company interested in knowing more about Tallahassee or potential facilities that may accommodate its needs. OEV also pursues internal and external leads generated by a third-party contractor.

“If we have something that fits their needs, whether it’s a facility or a research collaboration, we’ll put together some information and return it to them,” Gehrke said. “At that point, it’s not a project, we categorize that as a pipeline client.”

If the company requests more information, that may elevate the lead to become an active project.