PLANT CITY — Florida Agency Network, the state’s largest independent title company, is expanding here because of increased efforts to grow the local economy.
“We were potentially looking at moving the center of our operations to a more central location, either in downtown Tampa or Sabal Park” until economic development activities really began to increase here, said CEO Aaron Davis.
Instead of moving from Plant City, Davis decided to expand. “I decided to purchase our office park and the vacant lots adjacent to it and develop an additional 12,000 square feet.
Florida Agency Network is investing $5.1 million in its expansion and will use about 70 percent of the space created.
The expansion announcement took place Monday afternoon during the first official meeting of the Plant City Economic Development Corp. The new EDC will depend mostly on private investment from local companies. It is gearing up with 32 full board members and 12 general members and a budget of nearly $400,000 in start-up cash, including $175,000 from Plant City government. Its intent is to draw new business to the I-4 Corridor and beyond and to enable existing companies to expand in the Plant City region.
The company’s physical expansion at the Alexander Oaks office park, Davis said, will result in 50,000 square feet of office space in seven buildings with green space, a walking track for employees, outdoor relaxation areas and collaborative work space.
The expanded office park will also include a cafeteria, break areas, LCD screens and more. “We’re really paying attention to some of the businesses like USAA” which are focusing on building a “cool” work place that will attract every kind of employee, including millennials, he said.
Florida Agency Network has 30 locations across the state and its multiple brands include Hillsborough Title, Trident Title, Tampa Bay Title, HomePlus Title and BPM Solutions. “It’s very IT heavy, very process heavy,” Davis said. “Today’s workforce wants to come to work in jeans and comfy clothes and have their iPods going and do their work and have a nice place to take a break.” That is what the new expansion will include, he said.
Davis said he hopes to start construction in the first quarter of 2016. He’ll be hiring employees for multiple positions. “We’re not only a title company, but also an IT company and also do accounting, financial services, title ancillary services and lien searches.”
Davis said he plans to add about 100 additional staff in the next three to five years.
“We are excited to retain and assist Aaron’s company in their tremendous growth,” said Plant City Mayor Rick Lott. “Our homegrown businesses making a choice to stay and invest here is a sure sign of more great things to come.”
J.P. DuBuque, interim president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. called Davis’s expansion “a major win for Plant City and all of Hillsborough County. We are committed to working in partnership with the newly formed Plant City Economic Development Corp. to provide the permitting, workforce training and other business assistance services that help companies like Florida Agency Network thrive here by staying focused on their core business.”
Randy Larson, who is serving as the board chairman for the new Plant City EDC, said he looks forward to Florida Agency Network’s continued growth. “The world is waking up to the exceptional opportunities Plant City affords to grow a company, raise a family and take advantage of an excellent location that is convenient to all of Central Florida, Port Tampa Bay, Tampa International Airport and major interstates,” Larson said.