PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - Governor Rick Scott, along with Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, the Greater Pensacola Chamber, iGATE Corporation and WestFraser, Inc., announced the expansion of two local, internationally-based companies, iGATE and West Fraser, which will be hiring as many as 485 employees in Greater Pensacola in the coming months. The Chamber also announced that it has surpassed its Vision 2015 goal of creating 3,000 high-wage jobs – two years earlier than anticipated.
"Today's announcement of more than 480 jobs being created in Pensacola is great news for the families living in the area and further proof that the policies we've put into place over the last two years are working," said Governor Scott. "I would like to thank iGATE and West Fraser for taking notice of Florida's improving business climate and making a tremendous investment that will get more than 480 Floridians the chance to pursue their dreams in Florida."
Senate President DonGaetz (R-Niceville) said the day marks a momentous occasion, not only for the state,but also for the residents of Escambia County and Northwest Florida.
"The leadership of Governor Scott and the persistence and dedication of the business community have created a stable and predictable business environment," said Gaetz. "As a result, more and more great companies are planting their roots and investing their futures in our Northwest Florida communities."
iGATE owns CHCS Services, a long-standing local information technology company that will be expanding its corporate headquarters in the downtown Pensacola area and hiring as many as 385 full-time employees. West Fraser, a Canadian forestry company, plans to resume production at its McDavid sawmill in Escambia County and willultimately hire more than 100 new high-wage positions.
"Our center in Pensacola is one of our three delivery hubs in the U.S., and we are pleased with the talent available in the region," said Dr. Srinivas Kandula, EVP and Global Head of Human Resources for iGATE. "We are happy that our efforts have contributed to the Chamber's vision as we look to invest further in the region and continue to create jobs across our locations in the U.S."
West Fraser's McDavid sawmill will initially employ 80 people on a single-shift basis. The company is currently working with Workforce Escarosa, a program aimed toward helping local businessessucceed by linking them to the workforce development resources they need, to advertise its available positions.
"We are pleased to be able to restart our McDavid sawmill," said West Fraser Vice-President of U.S. Lumber Operations Sean McLaren. "We are looking forward to training staff who will be working with us and investing capital to improve the mill's operations."
The Chamber's Economic Development Department staff led both projects through the competitive site-selection process and helped them navigate both the local and state incentive approval process, said Chamber President & CEO Jim Hizer, CEcD, CCE. Hizer said Scott Luth and his team not only helped these projects come to fruition, but also surpassed the original goal of creating 3,000 high-wage jobs by 2015 – two years sooner than what was promised.
"Three years ago, 122 Vision 2015 investors from this community promised to help Greater Pensacola create 3,000 new jobs," said Hizer. "Today's announcement validates their commitment, and while we still have a long way to go to become the kind of regional competitor we want to be, achieving this milestone this early is evidence of this region's ever-progressing climate for success."
Other organizations instrumental in facilitating these expansions include Enterprise Florida, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Escambia County and the City of Pensacola. Gulf Power Company also lent support to CHCS Services through its re-occupancy grant, which supports revitalization of vacant facilities that have been closed for more than a year.
"Most new jobs come from existing companies, and it is always gratifying when we can help out one of our own," said John Hutchinson, Director of Public Affairs and Economic Development for Gulf Power Company and the Chamber's Chairman-Elect.
The Chamber unveiled its Economic Development Strategic Plan in February and launched its associated website – www.ChooseGreaterPensacola.com – in May. The Chamber's Chairman Sandy Sansing said that Greater Pensacola residents should consider this a 'call to action' for them to get involved in the future of their community, to have a say in what happens to the place that they are leaving to their children and grandchildren.
"It is to our region's competitive advantage to continually advance our economic base and to attract a variety of investments," said Sandy Sansing, Chairman of the Chamber's Board of Directors. "Today's announcement only helps to strengthen the message that the Chamber is strongly focused on building and maintaining strong relationships that exist within our business community."
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