A wireless charging device for hearing aids. An air quality monitor the size of a watch for people who suffer from asthma. Flexible patches with integrated electronics to detect heart rhythm.
Those and other high-tech devices are being developed at Jabil Inc.’s new Innovation Center, a nearly 40,000-square-foot building on the company’s St. Petersburg campus. It’s home to more than 100 employees and five separate labs, and represents the first phase of a $67.3 million headquarters expansion for the electronics manufacturing services company.
Jabil (NYSE: JBL), the largest company headquartered in St. Petersburg with projected revenue of more than $26 billion this year and about 200,000 employees worldwide, was courted by other states as it planned its expansion, Mark Mondello, CEO, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Innovation Center Thursday.
“When it comes down to it, we’re a St. Pete company,” Mondello said. “This just feels like home.”
Jabil has several research and development centers worldwide, and the St. Pete center will be one of its top R&D centers, Mondello said.
See the gallery below for more photos of the Innovation Center.
The new Innovation Center represents an affirmation of Jabil’s commitment to the city, said Mayor Rick Kriseman.
It also reinforces the part of the city’s vision statement that calls for St. Pete to be an innovative, creative and competitive community that honors its past as it pursues its future.
“When we talk about wanting to be a community that’s innovative, this is where it’s happening,” Kriseman said. “This is where the innovation is happening, and the brilliant minds inside that are working every day to do that and to create that innovation, is in perfect alignment with who we want to be as a community.”
Having Jabil in St. Petersburg gives the city an edge when economic developers are trying to recruit other companies to the city, Kriseman said.
The new “world center” — Mondello prefers that term to headquarters —also gives Jabil a competitive advantage in the war for highly skilled workers.
“We’re a service business and the most important thing we can do is attract and retain great talent,” Mondello said. “With a campus like this, it will help us with retention. It will be a fun campus, a very interactive campus. It will lower our operating costs.”
Two of the five labs in the Innovation Center focus on developing and testing products for Nypro, Jabil’s healthcare division. Healthcare traditionally is very conservative in terms of adapting to technology, said Angel Lasso, senior director, engineering services.
“Nypro can take advantage of [Jabil’s] capabilities and introduce them into healthcare in a fairly safe mode,” Lasso said.
When completed, the expanded campus will house about 2,000 Jabil employees, who currently are scattered in seven or eight leased locations throughout the Tampa Bay area.
The second phase of the project is already underway, with the demolition of an older building on the Jabil campus. Once that building site is cleared, construction will being on a 170,000-square-foot building housing office and support services for the campus, including food service, a fitness center, a technology lounge and conference center. The construction phase for that building is expected to be completed by March 2021.
After that, a four-story building that currently houses executive offices will be renovated to the standard of the newly constructed building, and additional lab space will be incorporated. That renovation is expected to be completed by October 2021.
The final phase of the project involves site and parking improvements, and is scheduled to be completed by December 2021.