Ruskin, FL -- You may have heard Amazon is coming to town.
The online giant retailer now has Governor Rick Scott's OK to build distribution centers here in Florida, after all.
So what changed the governor's mind?Was it good economic sense? Or maybe it made good political sense?
It may be both.
Governor Scott is up for re-election next year and he ran on the platform of creating jobs, jobs, jobs.... 700,000 in seven years, to be exact.
With those huge Amazon warehouse centers come thousands of jobs, taxes... and maybe some political capital.
"You know it'd be real food for this area," saidRuskin native,Steve Simmons.
Simmons, now 56, has seen the past decade's boom and bust in his community.For several years now, there'sbeen economic stagnation.
"They built a lot of it during theboom," he says, "and when it fell off, a lot of it just went down."
So, the prospect of Amazon bringing a powerhouse warehouse to the region with short term construction jobs, and long-term a thousand more -- including 375 higher-wage positions -- is welcomed news.
"Oh, anything like that would be good just to create jobs," said Simmons.
The location under consideration for the so-called "Fulfillment Center" is South Shore Corporate Park on the 30th Street, nearState Road 674 and I-75.
Starting next week, Hillsborough County will start considering tax breaks for Amazon in exchange for those jobs, including a partial break on property taxes for seven years.
Meanwhile, Floridians would pay more taxes.
If Amazon has a brick-and-mortar presence here in Florida, online purchases from them would be subject to state sales tax.
That's why Governor Scott first passed on the idea.
But the Florida Retail Federation says taxing online goods islong overdue, and only fair to other businesses.
"The question is how quickly can they get operating and how quickly can they start collecting the tax that has created a very unfair playing field for brick and mortar retailers for decades," said Rick McAllister with the Florida Retail Federation.
Governor Scott has apparently been reading the political tea leaves and has now reversed his position.
There are several factors.
First, public polls show Floridians favor job creation, even if it means paying taxes on Internet purchases. And they consider sales taxes to be among the most fair.
Secondly, Scott's re-election bid comes next year, a full two years before Amazon's projected completion in 2016. So any tax backlash would come long after the election.
And if you were to take a look at the proposed warehouse sites, you'd see Ruskin, Lakeland, Winter Haven and Orlando dotting a perfect line along thepolitically-charged I-4 corridor.
The political sweet-spot, which has been hard hit by unemployment and foreclosures, may look upon Scott more favorably if they believe he's truly working to bring in more jobs.
"Sure, it's gonna grab the attention of voters that might stay home and suddenly say, 'This Governor is creating jobs,'" said Susan Macmanus, a USF Political Science Professor.
Hillsborough Countycommissioners will get the ball rolling on this next week by essentially recognizing the possible job impact of bringing the Amazon Fulfillment Center to our area.
That would then clear the way for another meeting in July, where they'll start talking about tax incentives for the online giant.