News Column

Digital Risk Deal Could Bring 600 New Jobs to Seminole County

March 22, 2013

Martin E. Comas, Orlando Sentinel

As many as 600 new jobs may be headed to Lake Mary as Seminole County leaders move forward on a quiet deal to hand Digital Risk LLC, a Maitland-based software company, an incentive package worth up to $600,000.

Because of a confidentiality agreement, county and city officials said they could not provide any information about the "jobs-growth incentive" plan being offered to Digital Risk to create a new center in Lake Mary.

But county officials said details will be announced Tuesday when Seminole commissioners are scheduled to vote on the agreement at a public meeting. According to a county document, half of the incentive money would come from Lake Mary.

County Commissioner Lee Constantine said Thursday that he still had to study the incentive package to Digital Risk.

"I was told that these are new jobs," he said. But Constantine cautioned that state and local incentives shouldn't be "cannibalizing or moving jobs from one [nearby] area to another."

Digital Risk officials did not return calls for comment.

Lake Mary Mayor David Mealor would not comment, saying only that "it's incredible" and on the same scale as Verizon Communications' announcement in February that it plans to build a finance center with 750 new high-paying jobs within the city.

Verizon will break ground Tuesday on its new 220,000-square-foot, four-story building off International Parkway in Lake Mary. The center will bring together Verizon's accounting, finance, payroll and back-office operations from other areas in the country in the new building.

The state of Florida lured the Verizon center with up to $7.5 million in incentives. The Verizon center is expected to create 300 new jobs by the end of 2014, then grow to 750 jobs during the following two years.

Founded in 2005, Digital Risk is a rapidly growing developer of risk-analysis software for mortgages. Its clients include investment banks, insurers and other industries hurt by toxic mortgages and mortgage-backed securities when the housing bubble burst about five years ago.

Since its founding, Digital Risk's annual revenue has soared to $125 million. In July, the privately held company announced a large expansion that will create 1,000 jobs in Florida during the next two years.

However, five months later, Digital Risk said it was being acquired by India-based MphasiS, a unit of Hewlett-Packard Co. Digital Risk officials said in December that it would continue to operate autonomously and not move any jobs to India.

The company employs more than 900 people in Maitland and has offices in New York, Dallas and Denver.

In recent years, state and local governments have approved $4 million in tax-break incentives for Digital Risk in exchange for creating jobs.

Rick Foglesong, a political-science professor at Rollins College in Winter Park, said details of Seminole's incentives package to Digital Risk would determine whether it's a good deal for the region.

"If these are new jobs that were not already in Central Florida, then it would have a positive regional impact," Foglesong said. "But just because jobs are located in one county or city doesn't mean that people [employees] are going to live there, buy houses there, buy cars there and buy groceries there."



Source: (c)2013 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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