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Jabil expands to develop wearable technology

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Jabil Circuit is expanding its research and development lab in St. Pete to make way for an emerging new technology – that which one can wear. The company recently purchased the Finnish company Clothing+.

The company integrates electronic devices into clothing. They were behind Victoria’s Secret’s Smart Bra that allows users to track their heart rate through the bra rather than having to wear a more conventional belt to do so.

The industry is expected to eventually reach $60 billion. For now though, the Jabil expansion will only include about seven researchers. Those engineers will be transplants from Finland and will work directly with consumers to determine how to best create wearable technology.

“I am excited for their new venture into wearable technologies, for the jobs they will create, and for their continued investment in our community,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman told the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

The move represents a win for St. Pete as officials continue to put emphasis on attracting new businesses and promoting expansion of existing ones. The move marks what has been continued growth in the city since after the Great Recession.

Last year Jabil pulled in a net revenue of nearly $18 billion making it St. Pete’s largest company. The tech company recently also expanded into St. Pete’s Ceridian building on the 34th Street Corridor near Maximo.

The new research operations will be housed in a new building near Jabil’s existing headquarters on North Ninth Street that was just purchased in October. Strategic development for the company will also be housed in the same building.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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