Hightech Firms Digitas Allegiance Prefer Miami Base
By Candice Ventra
Executives for two high-tech companies say they plan to create close to 300 jobs over the next few years and inject more than $24 million into the Miami-Dade County economy if they get the green light for tax breaks at both the county and state level.
County commissioners are to decide July 25 if they will approve Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund incentives to help lure here Boston-based Digitas, an Internet professional services firm, and Allegiance Telecommunications, a Texas-based phone and Internet services company.
Digitas which has operations in New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and London is seeking Miami as a potential base as part of a southeast US expansion, said Maureen Bailey, senior vice president of communications.
The company, which employs about 1,300 people, proposes to create 185 jobs here over the next three years with an average salary of $75,000, said Carlos Leonard, vice president of the Beacon Council, the county’s economic development arm.
Digitas is seeking $203,500 over six years in tax incentives from the county and $814,000 from the state, contingent upon the number of jobs created, he said. He said the company plan also calls for a local capital investment of $2.4 million.
Although Digitas executives haven’t decided on a site for the expansion, downtown is of particular interest to them, he said.
Digitas helps companies find success in the Internet business, Ms. Bailey said.
"We help big business become e-businesses and e-businesses become big businesses," she said.
The company, Ms. Bailey said, has a high-profile list of clients, including General Motors, American Express, AT&T, Dell Computer and L.L. Bean.
Miami is the choice for expansion, she said, because of its proximity to Latin America. "Miami is the gateway to Latin America. We are serving a number of clients with operations in Latin America and Miami. Miami also has a very attractive labor pool. We are one of the first Internet professional services firms to be opening an office in Miami."
Mr. Leonard said Digitas could be here as early as year’s end.
Allegiance Telecommunications sells local and long-distance phone access, enhanced voice data and Internet connection services, he said.
To break into the local market, Mr. Leonard said, the company is looking to open a office somewhere in Miami-Dade County within six months.
The company seeks $48,000 in tax incentives from the county and $192,000 from the state over five years, he said.
The company proposed to create 60 jobs and invest $15 million into the local economy over the next two years, he said. The average salary per job, he said, is $45,000.
Mr. Leonard said the choice of the two companies to expand here is indicative of Miami’s growing association with the high-tech industry, especially since the companies are located in so called high-tech hubs.
"The IT industry is noticing Miami-Dade County as the place to be," Mr. Leonard said. "A lot of the site selectors we work with are looking at Miami in a very positive way."