TAMPA — Quest Diagnostics unveiled its new 48,000 square-foot national operations center here on Wednesday, committing to create 350 new jobs.
Some of those jobs will be subsidized with state and local money through the Qualified Target Industry Program to ensure they fall into the high-wage category of $47,581 or more. In all, the Madison N.J.-based company will receive as much as $675,000 through the program.
Most of the new hires will be in customer service, logistics and human resources.
“What sells businesses on Hillsborough County is the work force, the amenities here, the location, a good airport and interstates,” said Rick Homans, president and chief executive officer of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. “In some cases, if we are competing with two, three or four other states for a business, they layer in the incentives and see how competitive we are. We don't lead with the incentive package, but incentives often become part of the final decision.”
Getting this new national center is a coupe for the county, he said. “We've had a string of big announcements in the last year. This announcement by Quest is significant in that it's right in our sweet spot in terms of life sciences and shared services. It's a big project... and a big commitment to the community and sends a strong signal to other companies that might have us under consideration.”
Quest Diagnostics is the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services and already operates in numerous locations around Florida, with services ranging from advanced genetic testing for cancer and rare disorders to routine cholesterol testing.
This will be one of two national operations centers using high-tech systems to quickly respond to customers, physicians and other health care providers. The new Tampa center will also be the central location for Quest's Human Resources Shared Services for all 45,000 company employees.
The new center is expected to be fully operational by 2015.
Caroline Jecko-Parkes, Quest director of HR Shared Services, said some positions have already been hired for the new center, located at 10441 University Center Drive. Most of the remainder will be hired by the end of 2015.
“We chose Tampa because we already have a strong presence in the Tampa market and good connections within the community,” Jecko-Parkes said. “The other thing is that Tampa is a great market from a job candidate standpoint.”
Among its functions, the staff will monitor and track air and ground operations, allowing the company to track, around the clock, patient specimens as they travel from one of Quest's 2,200 patient service centers to the labs where they will be tested.
“Very few companies have as great an impact on health care as Quest Diagnostics, and we're excited that they have selected Tampa to serve their nationwide client base,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a company press release. He said it strengthens the area's reputation as a center of commerce and innovation in health care.
“Tampa is a terrific community with a great pool of job applicants, and we look forward to building our presence here,” said Jeffrey S. Shuman, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Quest.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe has been a leading proponent of the programs that assist companies locally to provide employees with better paychecks.
“We thank Quest Diagnostics for its commitment to our community, and look forward to supporting the company's... growth in Hillsborough County,” he said in a press release. “Our momentum continues to build, and with this announcement, we reinforce our role as a recognized leader in the life sciences industry.”