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Rick Scott part of elaborate grand opening for new e-commerce office in Ybor City

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

When Rick Scott campaigned for governor in 2010, he boasted that he would create 700,000 in seven years.

Now beginning his sixth year leading the state of Florida, Scott said in Ybor City on Tuesday that he’s blown away that metric, and then some.

“We’ve added 1 million, 25 thousand jobs,” he boasted in front of a large crowd gathered in Centro Ybor, celebrating the grand opening of Ashley Furniture’s opening a new e-commerce center in the middle of the Centro Ybor complex on Eighth Avenue.

That figure included the 41,000 jobs created in Tampa last year, Scott said. The governor began touting that over a million jobs had been created on his watch in December. 

The Ashley space is taking over half of the Muvico Centro Ybor 20 movie theater, a development that Centro Ybor officials said was scheduled to occur happen a long time ago (though not specifying the tenant). Ashley announced in May they would take over the space.

The company is taking advantage of tax incentives offered by the state of Florida, as well as from Tampa and Hillsborough County. All told, they are scheduled to receive $320,000 in taxpayer incentives over the next four years. The new digs will employ 200 people, with more hires expected in the future.

Scott, who has been campaigning incessantly on having the Legislature fund a $1 billion tax cut and a $250 million taxpayer-fund economic incentive fund to lure businesses to the state, made no mention of those proposals in his public comments.

“The American dream will always stay alive if we continue to fight for the dream,” he said. “We can’t fight for the dream if we’re going to have higher taxes or more regulations, or make it difficult for these businesses to succeed.”

The rhetoric was just a tad on the hyperbolic side among some of the other public speakers at the event, none more so than the words flowing from Nido Qubein, president of High Point University in North Carolina. He spoke about the fortitude of Ashley’s founder and chairman Ron Wanek, and its president and CEO, Todd Wanek.

“Can any one of us be seated here or standing at this gathering, doubt for a single moment that when you have an idea, when you commit yourself to it, when you engage yourself in the fundamentals that built this country in the first place, when you adhere to principles like personal initiative, free enterprise, when you take risks in a calculated and intelligent way, that you can truly shout out from the mountaintop, there is no such thing as unrealistic dreams,” said Qubein. “There are only unrealistic timelines.”

According to Forbes, Ron Wanek is worth $1.55 billion.

Also in attendance at the event were Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Bay Lightning owner and developer Jeff Vinik, and Mel Sembler, the St. Petersburg based developer and GOP heavyweight.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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