MacDill Air Force Base flying high as a premier Tampa Bay economic driver

2 minute read July 2019 —When describing the major economic drivers in the Tampa Bay region, the typical response will normally be associated with Fortune 500 companies, a budding technology sphere and the large healthcare systems that all call Tampa Bay MSA their home. While these are all significant contributors to the local economy, there is one entity that cannot be overlooked or underestimated: MacDill Air Force Base. 

A staple in the Tampa Bay community, MacDill Air Force Base employs approximately 15,000 people and creates over $3 billion a year in economic impact. Established in 1939, the base has been an economic powerhouse and premier training ground for aircrews throughout all the major wars since its inception. 

The impact of the base is far-reaching, as collaboration with various sectors of the local economy has spurred continued interest from companies to do business in Tampa Bay. Invest: spoke with Larry Richey, managing principal for Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa, who noted the appealing environment for defense technology thanks in part to MacDill. “We have companies that are providing cybersecurity services in conjunction with MacDill Air Force Base and the University of South Florida. The triangulation of MacDill, USF and cybersecurity startups has created a ripe environment for defense technology here in Tampa,” Richey told Invest:. 

Former Mayor Bob Buckhorn also credited MacDill as one of the reasons that Tampa is able to stay competitive in attracting new businesses to the area. “Most people don’t realize that MacDill is the only base in the military system that is home to two combat commands. There are 2,400 defense-contracting firms in the Tampa Bay area that largely feed off of central command but, more specifically, special operations command.” 

While the base has been successful on it’s own merit and continues to give back to the region tenfold, the relationship between MacDill Air Force Base and Tampa Bay is mutually beneficial. The Tampa Bay region has long been known as a welcoming community for veterans and active duty citizens. Regional Vice President for USAA Yvette Segura spoke to Invest: about the deep-rooted connection between the Air Force base and the surrounding community. “Knowing that the community as a whole is so warm and receptive to the folks coming into MacDill has created a strong sense of fellowship that is welcoming to a company like ours. Part of our company mission is to support military members as they’re exiting their roles and to offer them an opportunity to work with us,” she said. “There’s something special about what Tampa does for military families, and I truly believe it speaks to the collective comradery of the community leaders in the Tampa Bay area.

There aren’t many areas in Florida, or the United States for that matter, that have the economic advantage that MacDill Air Force Base provides to the Tampa Bay region. The base’s influence and impact continues to drive Tampa Bay both socially and economically into the future. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

MacDill Air Force Base: https://www.macdill.af.mil/

USAA: https://www.usaa.com/

Cushman & Wakefield: http://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en

Invest: Tampa Bay Launched with Resounding Success!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 5, 2019

Tampa Bay’s diverse and strong economy is highlighted at the first release of Invest: Tampa Bay

In celebration of Invest: Tampa Bay’s inaugural issue, local companies and individuals are invited to come and network with one another while also celebrating the unified Tampa Bay business community.

Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay’s diverse economy and appeal for healthcare, tech and innovation, talented workers, new businesses, a booming startup industry and the continued growth of the real estate market are some of the focal points of Invest: Tampa Bay’s first edition. The 2019 report highlights the growth in the entire Tampa Bay region as well as the technological renaissance the area is currently experiencing.  

Tampa Bay’s technology and innovation sector is a main focus throughout the community and its impact is felt in all economic sectors. Residential and commercial development is a significant driver of construction in Tampa Bay, and there is no slowdown in sight. Tourism, arts, culture, and sports are covered in detail as they are some of the area’s largest economic drivers. Invest: Tampa Bay also puts particular focus on the healthcare sector as Tampa Bay continues to grow as a hub for medical innovation and leadership. This publication from Capital Analytics is a 156-page economic analysis that highlights Tampa Bay’s economy, key sectors and opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

The official launch of the publication will take place on June 13, 2019 at The Don CeSar Hotel in St. Petersburg, at 1:30 pm. The opening keynote address for the day will be Kenneth Welch, Commissioner, Pinellas Board of County Commissioners and the closing keynote address will be Sandra Murman, Commissioner of Hillsborough County. Following networking, there will be three robust panel discussion to discuss the current climate, highlights and challenges facing various sectors of the local economy.

The panels will address key sectors in Tampa Bay’s economy from an expert perspective. The “A Healthier Tampa Bay” panel will be moderated by Lee Lasris, Partner at Greenspoon Marder. Panelists will be Tim Thompson, SVP/CIO of Baycare; Sherry Hoback, CEO of Tampa Family Health Centers; John Couris, CEO of Tampa General Hospital; and Phil Dingle, Managing Partner at HealthEdge Investment Partners.

The second panel, “Let’s Innovate” will be moderated by Rita Lowman, President of Pilot Bank. Panelists will be Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4; Gregory Kadet, Managing Director at UBS Wealth Management Americas; Ron Christaldi, CEO of Shumaker Advisors; and Brian Kornfeld, President and Co-Founder of Synapse.

The final panel “Forging Ahead” will be moderated by Jack Miller, Regional Director at Capital Analytics. Panelists will be Gary Sasso, CEO of Carlton Fields; Chris Bowen, Chief Development Strategist at RD Management; Beth Alden, Executive Director of Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning for Transportation; and Cesar Hernandez, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Mobility Alliance.  

Capital Analytics President, Abby Melone, remarked, “We are proud to be able to bring all the amazing economic developments in Tampa Bay to the forefront. It’s not hard to see why this is the fastest growing region in the state of Florida. There is so much positive development and growth happening in this market, and we look forward to continuing to establish and grow partnerships with local public and private sector leadership.”  

About Invest: Tampa Bay 2019:

Invest: Tampa Bay 2019 is an in-depth economic review of the key issues facing Tampa Bay’s economy, featuring the exclusive insights of prominent industry leaders. Invest: Tampa Bay 2019 is produced with two goals in mind: 1) to provide comprehensive investment knowledge on Tampa Bay to local, national and international investors, and 2) to promote Tampa Bay as a place to invest and do business.

The book conducts a deep dive into the top economic sectors in the county, including real estate, construction, technology, infrastructure, banking and finance, healthcare, education and the arts, culture and tourism. The publication is compiled from insights collected from more than 200 economic leaders, sector insiders, political figures and heads of important institutions. It analyzes the leading challenges facing the market as well as covering emerging opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Register: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07egc2lefr9dfa0185&oseq=&c=&ch=

Contact: Max Crampton-Thomas

Content Manager | Tampa Bay

Phone Number: 305-523-9708 Ext. 233

MCThomas@capitalaa.com

Invest: Tampa Bay Leadership Summit and Economic Report Debut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 5, 2019

Tampa Bay’s diverse and strong economy is highlighted at the first release of Invest: Tampa Bay

In celebration of Invest: Tampa Bay’s inaugural issue, local companies and individuals are invited to come and network with one another while also celebrating the unified Tampa Bay business community.

Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay’s diverse economy and appeal for healthcare, tech and innovation, talented workers, new businesses, a booming startup industry and the continued growth of the real estate market are some of the focal points of Invest: Tampa Bay’s first edition. The 2019 report highlights the growth in the entire Tampa Bay region as well as the technological renaissance the area is currently experiencing.  

Tampa Bay’s technology and innovation sector is a main focus throughout the community and its impact is felt in all economic sectors. Residential and commercial development is a significant driver of construction in Tampa Bay, and there is no slowdown in sight. Tourism, arts, culture, and sports are covered in detail as they are some of the area’s largest economic drivers. Invest: Tampa Bay also puts particular focus on the healthcare sector as Tampa Bay continues to grow as a hub for medical innovation and leadership. This publication from Capital Analytics is a 156-page economic analysis that highlights Tampa Bay’s economy, key sectors and opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

The official launch of the publication will take place on June 13, 2019 at The Don CeSar Hotel in St. Petersburg, at 1:30 pm. The opening keynote address for the day will be Kenneth Welch, Commissioner, Pinellas Board of County Commissioners and the closing keynote address will be Sandra Murman, Commissioner of Hillsborough County. Following networking, there will be three robust panel discussion to discuss the current climate, highlights and challenges facing various sectors of the local economy.

The panels will address key sectors in Tampa Bay’s economy from an expert perspective. The “A Healthier Tampa Bay” panel will be moderated by Lee Lasris, Partner at Greenspoon Marder. Panelists will be Tim Thompson, SVP/CIO of Baycare; Sherry Hoback, CEO of Tampa Family Health Centers; John Couris, CEO of Tampa General Hospital; and Phil Dingle, Managing Partner at HealthEdge Investment Partners.

The second panel, “Let’s Innovate” will be moderated by Rita Lowman, President of Pilot Bank. Panelists will be Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of KnowBe4; Gregory Kadet, Managing Director at UBS Wealth Management Americas; Ron Christaldi, CEO of Shumaker Advisors; and Brian Kornfeld, President and Co-Founder of Synapse.

The final panel “Forging Ahead” will be moderated by Jack Miller, Regional Director at Capital Analytics. Panelists will be Gary Sasso, CEO of Carlton Fields; Chris Bowen, Chief Development Strategist at RD Management; Beth Alden, Executive Director of Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning for Transportation; and Cesar Hernandez, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Mobility Alliance.  

Capital Analytics President, Abby Melone, remarked, “We are proud to be able to bring all the amazing economic developments in Tampa Bay to the forefront. It’s not hard to see why this is the fastest growing region in the state of Florida. There is so much positive development and growth happening in this market, and we look forward to continuing to establish and grow partnerships with local public and private sector leadership.”  

About Invest: Tampa Bay 2019:

Invest: Tampa Bay 2019 is an in-depth economic review of the key issues facing Tampa Bay’s economy, featuring the exclusive insights of prominent industry leaders. Invest: Tampa Bay 2019 is produced with two goals in mind: 1) to provide comprehensive investment knowledge on Tampa Bay to local, national and international investors, and 2) to promote Tampa Bay as a place to invest and do business.

The book conducts a deep dive into the top economic sectors in the county, including real estate, construction, technology, infrastructure, banking and finance, healthcare, education and the arts, culture and tourism. The publication is compiled from insights collected from more than 200 economic leaders, sector insiders, political figures and heads of important institutions. It analyzes the leading challenges facing the market as well as covering emerging opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

Register: https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07egc2lefr9dfa0185&oseq=&c=&ch=

Contact: Max Crampton-Thomas

Content Manager | Tampa Bay

Phone Number: 305-523-9708 Ext. 233

MCThomas@capitalaa.com

St. Pete Rising

By staff writer

June 2019

Development and transformation are necessary to any region undergoing the population and business growth that Tampa Bay is experiencing. Nowhere is this more evident than what was once the sleepy beach town of St. Petersburg, which Mayor Rick Kriseman describes as, “A city of opportunity, where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play. Our population was once just a retirement community, but that has changed dramatically over the years.”

The development of St. Petersburg is a prime example of the type of change that can happen when various entities work together to create change. In fact, the very essence of the St. Pete that residents have come to know is based on a foundation of collaboration, thanks to efforts by groups like the Tampa Downtown Partnership that laid the groundwork for economic drivers like the St. Pete Innovation District. Invest: Tampa Bay spoke with Alison Barlow, Executive Director of the Innovation District, who expressed just how important collaboration has been to the development of St. Pete. “Forty years ago, St. Pete benefited from some forward-thinking people who laid the groundwork for the Innovation District. They developed the Downtown Partnership and assembled the land that would eventually become the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Others turned to solving childhood illness. They set out to find a research partner, and brought Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to the area. As all of these people kept attracting these innovative companies and individuals and putting them next to each other, it resulted in some incredible outcomes. We are now living the benefit of all this collaboration and innovation.”

Mayor Kriseman has been perhaps the biggest advocate for the development of St. Pete through collaboration and unity, spearheading multiple initiatives to help reach the untapped potential of the area. One of his largest endeavours started in 2014, just months after taking office: the development of a new pier for the city of St. Petersburg. This $87 million undertaking will include a restaurant, a pavilion, a wet classroom and discovery center. “We like to think of ourselves as an arts and culture hub. Our new pier will include an entirely new pier district when it opens toward the end of next year,” Mayor Kriseman told Invest: Tampa Bay. Major construction on the pier should be completed toward the end of 2019 with the hope of opening to the public in 2020. The ultimate goal for the 3,065-foot pier is to be its own district within St. Pete and to act as a hub of cultural and economic activity for residents and visitors alike.

Transformation and development have become commonplace for residents in the Tampa Bay region, and the change underway in St. Petersburg is a testament to the area’s positive growth. Spearheaded by the construction of the St. Pete Pier, the city is looking to continue its positive trend, both economically and socially, into the future. “Over the last decade as the foundational elements were built, St. Pete evolved into one of the most diverse and vibrant downtown areas in the state of Florida,” noted Commissioner of Pinellas County Ken Welch. “The influx of residents, especially younger residents, has reversed the demographic trend of St. Pete being the place where people come to solely retire.”

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Mayor Rick Kriseman: http://www.stpete.org/mayor_s_office/mayor_s_biography.php

Alison Barlow, St. Pete Innovation District: https://stpeteinnovationdistrict.com/the-district/

Commissioner Ken Welch: http://www.pinellascounty.org/commission/KTWelch.htm

 

Tampa’s Surging Growth Leads to Big Moves in Transportation

By staff writer

May 2019

Tampa’s growth from mid-2017 to mid-2018 propelled it into the top tier of the nation’s fastest-growing cities, according to figures released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Tampa had the nation’s ninth largest increase in population among all U.S. metro areas, and the highest level of net domestic migration in 2018, with 132,602 new arrivals from other parts of the U.S.

Along with Orlando, which came in at No. 5, Tampa leads the way in Florida, a state in which the population growth rate was the fourth highest in the United States between July 2017 and July 2018.

All of that growth leads to growing traffic and higher transportation needs. Solving the ground transportation needs isn’t just a concern for the residents of Tampa, as the effects are also felt at local well-known staples like the Tampa International Airport.  “From the standpoint of the airport, we see our passenger traffic doubling over the next 20 years,” said Joe Lopano, CEO for the Tampa International. “That means that the roadways have to be capable of taking our travelers to the beaches or museums or wherever else they want to go. At the present time, they aren’t capable of doing that, so we’re looking for solutions.”

Plans to expand Brightline’s high-speed rail to the city solves one piece of the solution, Lopano said, “but there’s no silver bullet. It’s going to be a combination of things, and the fact that Uber and Lyft exist has enabled rail to be a viable alternative. Ride sharing solves the first-mile, last-mile problem.”

The main question, of course, is how Tampa Bay will deal with the increased traffic. Beth Alden, the executive director for the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning for Transportation, said that local municipalities are heading in the right direction. After convincing the local public that there was a there was “a multi-billion dollar disconnect” between its current spending plans and the realities of the city’s growing transportation needs,  “last November, Hillsborough County’s voters approved a one-penny sales tax, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward transportation investments.” She said it was a watershed moment. “This sales tax will help us achieve our vision for the future of transportation.”

She said that besides building, expanding and fixing roads, the city is also working on improving transportation options for bicycles and pedestrians across the city, expanding pathways on and off barrier islands, and improving intersections. Improving access to alternative fuel sources and trolley systems are another priority.

“When you look at it from a regional standpoint, we’re the gateway to the west coast of Florida,” Lopano said. We have been able to increase our international travel by more than 125 percent since I started. That’s extremely important because every time we bring in a new international live body on a daily basis it generates $154 million in economic impact to our community. That’s critical.’

“Tourism in Florida is extremely important, and we want to be a part of its growth.”

For more information, visit:

Tampa International Airport  
Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning for Transportation

 

Tampa Bay’s Strong Female Leaders are Changing the Area’s Future

By staff writer

April 2019

Within the Tampa Bay market lies a strong cohort of female leaders looking to enhance their community. Whether it be local government, law offices, performing arts centers, or tech-based companies, these women are taking steps to ensure Tampa Bay’s steady growth.

Take Trenam Law, for instance, which has offices in Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg and is led by managing shareholder Marie Tomassi. “We have seen some growth over the past year or so that we’re very excited about,” Tomassi said. “We acquired five lawyers and two paralegals from another firm in the area that have been a great fit for Trenam.”

As the firm continues to grow, Tomassi sees Trenam Law expanding its reach into fields that have recently fallen into higher demand — such as cybersecurity and solar energy. The firm recently bolstered its land-use practice by adding lawyers who are well-versed in representing alternative energy sources as a means to better the community.

“This group of top-notch professionals has helped us develop our solar practice, which is something that’s fairly unique,” Tomassi said. “As the Tampa-area market grows, our practice groups strengthen. Tampa has seen an increase in tech and a booming real estate market. Our technology and cybersecurity practice groups have been seeing a lot of demand because of the action in the market.”

And as Trenam Law moves into more tech-focused fields, so does the workforce in Tampa Bay.

This is quite evident in regulatory software company Global Safety Management, which is led by their founder & CEO Julia MacGreggor-Peralta who is working to ensure that as the tech space in Tampa continues to grow, so does the number of women working in it.

“More than 60 percent of our employees are women, which is unusual in our space as a regulatory software company. It’s traditionally considered a man’s business,” Julia MacGreggor-Peralta told Invest. “As female business leaders, we’re working to change this.”

The growth in tech is also being stimulated by women like Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective, who felt extremely bullish in relation to the growth in Tampa. “It’s the right time to be in Tampa Bay if you want to be a part of our growth story. I believe the growth of the entrepreneurial community and increase in startup businesses will attract people that maybe weren’t previously interested in Tampa Bay or Florida that want to help grow and build something here.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman, who was re-elected to a third term in 2016, sees the Tampa Bay area as an up-and-coming destination for tech workers and is intent on making that goal a reality.

Here in Tampa, we’re intent on acquiring higher-wage tech jobs to keep graduates local after they move on from our colleges and universities. We want to be seen as a Charlotte, Chicago, or New York — an attractive city that young professionals want to call home.”

Murman knows that in addition to providing job opportunities, the city also needs to provide an affordable place for said very tech workers and young professionals to live, and the city is putting forth the resources to do just that.

“We just made a large investment in our general revenue budget — an extra $5.2 million for affordable housing,” Murman said. “The plan is to leverage that money with private developers to maximize our impact. Most affordable housing projects cost somewhere between $15 to $25 million, so we have to creatively figure out ways to make our dollars stretch.”

The city also benefits greatly from the economic impact of the Straz Center, one of the country’s largest performing arts centers. President & CEO Judith Lisi is keen on the center remaining a mainstay of a booming community.

“The Straz Center is the largest performing arts center south of the Kennedy Center and the largest cultural organization in Florida with $100 million annual economic impact,” she said. “We are the first performing arts conservatory attached to a major performing arts center in the country. There are a lot of other performing arts centers from around the country looking at us as a model.”

And Lisi intends to capitalize on the prime location of the Straz Center, right along the Tampa Riverwalk, as a means for attracting an even larger and diverse crowd to the center.

“We have a great opportunity in light of the transformation of the Riverwalk,” Lisi said. “Our whole masterplan for the renovation of the Straz Center is being developed to address everything that’s happening on the river.”

With a strong group of female leaders within its business and arts communities and a local government investing in its community, Tampa Bay is establishing itself as the next hot spot in South Florida. Thanks to the efforts of women like Tomassi, Murman,Lisi, MacGreggor-Peralta, and Shenoy, the city is making that dream a reality.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Marie Tomassi with Trenam Law: https://www.trenam.com/people-list/marie-tomassi/

Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman: https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/government/board-of-county-commissioners/sandra-murman

Judith Lisi with Straz Center: https://www.strazcenter.org/About-The-Straz-Center/Executive-Staff

Lakshmi Shenoy with Embarc Collective: https://www.embarccollective.com/team/

Julia MacGreggor-Peralta with Global Safety Management: https://www.gsmsds.com/

Growing Up Lakeland: A City on the Cusp

By staff writer

March 2019

Often known as the city sandwiched between Orlando and Tampa or as the host of one of America’s largest aviation shows, the City of Lakeland has been working diligently to accelerate its prominence not only in Polk County but also throughout the state of Florida. With the combination of an expanding economy, growing population and multiple initiatives from local government, Lakeland is primed to be Florida’s next rising star.

It hasn’t even been 10 years since Lakeland’s population crossed into the 100,000 residents range, yet there is a spark of excitement throughout the community that is felt in both the private and public sectors. Invest: Tampa Bay recently sat down with Lakeland’s mayor, Bill Mutz, to discuss the growth and major economic drivers for the city.

“Two of the major drivers are our location between Tampa and Orlando,” Mayor Mutz told Invest:. “We have the DNA of a city that’s geographically been born in a good spot and is on the cusp of a large acceleration of growth.” The mayor went on to speak about the impact of supermarket giant Publix having its headquarters in the city. “Publix is also headquartered here, and they have 1,237 stores and over 210,000 employees, making them a huge influence throughout the region.”

The mayor revealed to Invest: that the strategy for continued growth in the region is “an effective long-term game plan” that is reliant on involving residents of the city in all aspects of the community.

This idea of long-term success was clearly evident when we spoke with Steve Scruggs, president of the Lakeland Economic Development Council, who made it clear that the focus is not only on growth for the city but also for its residents.

“This year we are focusing on entrepreneurship and major groundbreaking work in the downtown area through our catalyst sites project,” Scruggs told Invest:. “We identified areas for redevelopment within our downtown that would embody new commercial, retail and office high-rises, parking garages, a soccer stadium, a promenade and an elevated pedestrian walkway. These plans are getting more traction and are part of a big project happening in downtown.”

Scruggs emphasized the point that supporting entrepreneurs and local business in the area is an essential part of the growth initiatives. “We are building a new facility for entrepreneurs in downtown Lakeland that will open up this year,” he said. “The project is part of our Catapult 2.0 initiative and will host a commercial kitchen, a makerspace with wood and metal working shops, CNC machining, 3D printers and co-working spaces. It is privately funded and a place for entrepreneurs to test out their concepts in a low-risk financial space. It is a nonprofit project to give back to the community and increase the viability of startups through education, collaborative workspace and funding.”

From an outsider perspective, it might seem that these initiatives and ideas for internal growth in Lakeland are far-reaching, but this growth from within is exactly what Mayor Mutz is hoping will push Lakeland to the next level.

“We’re a city that has an unusual heart and the capability of communicating trust across sectors within the community,” he said. “This is increasingly important in today’s society. In a decisive world with much polarization, to model inclusiveness is going to be extremely attractive to future residents.”

Invest: Tampa Bay can’t wait to see what’s in store for Lakeland in 2019 and beyond!

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:
Lakeland Economic Development Council: http://www.lakelandedc.com/
City of Lakeland: https://www.lakelandgov.net/

 

A Hub for Medical Innovation

By staff writer

February 2019

There are certain aspects of a community that will always prove to be true. One such truth is when you have an area like Tampa Bay that is home to nearly 3 million people, and that number is steadily increasing year after year, there is inevitably going to be a need for more medical care. With that comes an increased emphasis on medical education. So how is Tampa handling this increased demand? The simple answer is: innovation.

Tampa is home to a number of highly praised and widely recognized medical institutions, and one of these institutions is Ultimate Medical Academy. The academy is using innovative methods for its online school to better equip those students who might not have the flexibility in their lives to go to an actual campus. Invest: Tampa Bay recently sat down with the school’s president, Derek Apanovitch, to discuss how they are best supporting their medical students.

“It has been a good year at Ultimate Medical Academy,” Apanovitch told Invest:. “We reached 15,000 students nationwide, and we have more than 45,000 graduates across the country. We also received four more years of accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.

“We have what we call learner-services advisors who are assigned to individual students on their first day of class and stay with them through the duration of their program to help keep them on track,” Apanovitch continued. “One of the obvious challenges of running an online learning environment is that you don’t have students in front of you. We try to reaffirm that human element through constant interaction with our students, many of whom are single moms who are juggling part-time jobs and child care, so it’s important that someone is always available to help them. Faculty and the student support center employees are always on hand. That’s integral to the success of our students.”

Online institutions like Ultimate Medical Academy are proving successful because of their accessibility. This idea of accessibility has also been adopted by Tampa’s hospitals, making it so their patients have access to the items they need without having to go out of their way to procure them.

Invest: Tampa recently spoke with Tampa General Hospital’s CEO and president, John Couris, to discuss how they are leveraging innovative technologies to improve patient experience.

“We use a system called Epic for our electronic medical records (EMRs), and arguably it’s one of the best EMRs in the world,” Couris said. “It has improved access to clinical information exponentially for patients. Patients can access test results. They can communicate and message their doctors. They can make appointments. They can fill prescriptions. They have a to-do list for healthcare and tracking. They have a healthcare summary. They can see and pay their bills. They can do an e-visit, and they can share their records with any other Epic institution in the world. Not every institution has that kind of technology and infrastructure. We have it, and we’re continuing to get better at it.”

Innovation is not a new concept, but it is one that is necessary for Tampa Bay’s continued success in the medical field. As long as medical professionals and institutions continue to innovate, Tampa Bay will continue to be at the forefront of Florida’s medical community!

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:
Ultimate Medical Academy: https://www.ultimatemedical.edu/
Tampa General Hospital: https://www.tgh.org/

Workforce Development for the Future

By Ian Leigh

February 2019

Photo credit: Tampa Bay Times.

Although Governor Ron DeSantis has asked for Florida’s education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, to help him secure $36 million from the legislature for workforce programs, with an emphasis on computer science classes, several Tampa Bay area college presidents say there are market opportunities in the arts and creative fields as well.

Governor DeSantis, at a recent Tampa press conference, asked for more dollar investment in vocational and technical training, with a special emphasis on computer knowledge. To stress that initiative, he signed an executive order asking for an audit by the Department of Education to learn more about its career and technical education programs. He said he wants to prepare more people for practical market entry.

The goal is to raise Florida from number 24 nationally in vocational training to number 1 by 2030. As part of this effort, he is asking the legislature to put $10 million into programs that will permit teachers to earn computer science certificates. He hopes the end result will be more qualified faculty in this field.

Governor DeSantis also asked for another $26 million for more workforce programs within the state college system and more investment to seed workforce apprenticeships. Several Tampa Bay area college presidents say that there are also alternative opportunities in the arts and other fields — in everything from mental health counseling to the creative arts.

Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College, told our Invest: Tampa Bay team that there are myriad creative paths for students. “Historically, education has focused on the left side of the brain (the logical, analytical and sequential thinking), but with the dawn of AI, the development of the right side of the brain (the creative, holistic and intuitive thinking) will become even more critical. That’s where the future lies; it’s going to become fuel for all industries, the oil of the future.”

Ringling College, based in Sarasota, offers classes in the business of art and design and other creative disciplines.

Jeff Day, president of Argosy University, noted there are new opportunities in the market. “Due to what’s happening in our society right now, clinical mental health counseling is a really booming occupational field,” he told Invest:. “There’s such a growing need for mental health counsellors and clinical psychologists, and even our school psychology program, that we’ve expanded our programs and are seeing more students.”

Governor DeSantis stressed the need for practical education during his press conference. “Florida has many students unprepared for college and workforce success,” he said, “limiting both their career and opportunities, as well as employers’ ability to grow their business.”

Jeffrey Senese, president of St. Leo University, emphasized his belief in internships and practical readiness for work upon entry into the workforce. “Internships are crucial, as are the practical projects in the classroom. We try to ensure both so our students are career-ready upon graduating,” he told Invest:.

A feature for the school is that its faculty members have field experience in addition to academic knowledge. Senese cited the real-world seniority of instructors in his school’s criminal justice department. “The same goes for the business, arts and science, social work and education departments — they’re practitioners; that’s an important part of our model.”

It’s clear that Florida’s leaders recognize the importance of training the state’s future workforce and preparing them to be productive members of a constantly changing economy. Whether it’s technical and computer science training or honing creative and communication skills, Tampa Bay’s educational institutions are rising to the challenge.

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:
Argosy University: https://www.argosy.edu
Ringling College: https://www.ringling.edu
St. Leo University: https://www.saintleo.edu