HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - Four years ago, Fort Wayne-Based BeniComp Health Solutions relocated to downtown Tampa. The company expanded it staff and put down new roots in an East Kennedy office building.
But these days, all of BeniComp’s 30 employees included President Steve Presser are working from home.
“We were 100% in office,” said Presser. “It had been part of our tradition to always be an in office collaborative team, and when Covid hit that changed everything.”
Benicomp joins a growing list of companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter that are are allowing its workers to telecommute indefinitely amid concerns of Covid-19 contagion.
“Nobody has a crystal ball,” said Presser. “We don’t know how long this will go so what we’ve done we’ve made a commitment to virtual.“
Business leaders say employee productivity has increased. But across the country and here at home, there are concerns the corporate tax base could shrink now that commercial office space is no longer a necessity.
“Based on what I see now, next year financially for Hillsborough County, could be catastrophic,” said Doug Belden, tax collector for Hillsborough County who is retiring next year. “It could be possibly one of the most severe recessions you could possibly take on.”
Hillsborough County is expected to collect about $2 billion in real estate taxes in November.
About $796 million of that will come from commercial real estate.
That revenue is used to fund a number of county-wide projects and any reduction in funds could put everything at risk.
“Things like transit, building new schools things of this nature,” said Chris Jones, economics instructor at USF. “If those revenues go down, it constraints your ability to move money in that direction.”
Presser believes there could be a potential silver lining amid Hillsborough County’s gloomy fiscal forecast.
“My friends in other cities have asked me about Tampa and several of them are thinking about moving their businesses here,” he said.