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Politics

Rick Scott: 4,500 Jobs on the Way as Wawa Opens, Digital Risk Expands

July 17, 2012 - 6:00pm

Floridas newest job creator opened Wednesday in Central Florida.

The world of Wawa -- or what the company calls Wawa Land.

The suburban Philadelphia-based convenience and build-to-order hoagie shop drew several hundred people, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Lottery Secretary Cynthia O'Connell, to celebrate the migration of the company to Orlando.

And Gov. Rick Scott later announced that another company -- Digital Risk -- has 1,000 more jobs on the way.

Digital Risk worked with Enterprise Florida, the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, city of Boca Raton, city of Jacksonville, city of Maitland, JAX USA Partnership, Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Workforce Florida Inc. and Orange County.

Wawa came to Florida mostly on its own, but with help from Orange County and Orlando.

The first of what is expected to be 100 Wawa stores in a five-year period opened Wednesday with Gov. Rick Scott joining a large number of Philly and New Jersey natives who flocked to the longtime Mid-Atlantic shop that opened near Sea Worldfor a morning of free coffee and their favorite sandwiches.

Scott, who admitted to being hooked on the Wawa hoagies, said he expects the chains Florida operations to quickly outgrow its Mid-Atlantic footprint.

This is your sixth state and it will be your biggest state because our state is going to grow faster than any other in the country, Scott said.

"I've made a commitment of 700,000 jobs. I don't know if you can do it by yourselves, but you're going to be a big part of it."

Officials with Wawa plan four other stores to open in Orlando and Kissimmee in the next month, with the additional locations opening along the I-4 corridor west to Tampa.Each location is expected to employ nearly 35.

The opening was the first of two job projects Scott announced for Central Florida on Wednesday.

Wawa Chief Executive Officer Howard Stoeckel said the more time a search committee spent in Florida, the more they knew they wanted to expand to Florida, skipping the I-95 corridor.

We have almost 600 stores within 150 miles of Philadelphia. We want to create a new Wawa Land, Stoeckel said.

The draw for Wawa attracted several people to camp outside the store shortly after midnight.

Later in the day, Scott went to Maitland, where mortgage risk giant Digital Risk announced it would continue expanding in Florida rather than in Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Denver and Phoenix.

The growth of Digital Risk perfectly demonstrates Floridas ability to recruit and retain innovative companies that can contribute to our economy and provide high-value jobs for Floridians, Scott stated in a release. The companys expansion throughout our state is also evidence of our success in making Florida attractive to companies looking to increase business opportunities.

The company has already set up a site in Boca Raton for 150 workers, bringing its existing Sunshine State work force to 1,300.

We are committed to building long-term careers, not just jobs, Peter Kassabov, CEO of Digital Risk, stated in a release. Thats why we invest more than $10,000 in training for each employee we hire. Floridas incentive programs will allow us to expand our training even further as we look to hire 1,000 new employees in the next two years.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

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