Writer: Alejandro Sanchez
2 min read March 2022— Tampa Bay has transformed itself into an epicenter for economic activity thanks to the stewardship of strong, diverse public and private leaders. Invest: spoke with some of the region’s top female leadership about what has made, and continues to make, Tampa Bay a unique and attractive place to do business in a post-pandemic economy.
Carole Post, Administrator for Development and Economic Opportunity, City of Tampa
We are always thrilled to talk about Tampa and its economic development, our progress, and our position across the country. We have had a tremendous year. We have winning sports teams, which is certainly an opportunity to brag, but more than those victories, it is about the visibility, attention, and awareness that it brings to Tampa. Putting that aside, the reality of the last year and a half has been quite challenging economically and otherwise. The city has positioned itself incredibly well and is poised to have a very effective recovery.
We are benefiting from a lot of the relocations and continued interest in people seeing Tampa as a destination for families and businesses. It has been projected that Tampa’s population will increase by 100,000 residents by 2045. Our current population is slightly more than 400,000 now, so that is a big jump. We are looking to plan accordingly, be responsible and responsive to accommodate the growth. Having good-paying jobs is a key aspect to that. Fintech is becoming a big driver for us, as well as Medtech with the health sciences and academic medicine industry.
Sharon Hillstrom, President & CEO, Bradenton Area EDC
Having a business-friendly local government that gets things done quickly has been a major value proposition for the Bradenton Area. We offer rapid response permitting to get projects through that process quickly. We have tremendous assets of expansive green and recreational space that is accessible year-round. Our educational system is very robust, with a state college, a university, medical school and dental school. Our public schools continue to improve, offering dynamic programs related to STEM, among others. Our economic development is based on being collaborative, innovative and responsive, and it has been greatly attractive to companies moving in.
Jacki Dezelski, President & CEO, Manatee Chamber of Commerce
The significant majority of our members have told us that the local economy has resumed its growth trajectory for their businesses and they are optimistic. Many are looking to grow and expand their workforce. A majority of our membership also believes they will persevere through the continued challenges of the pandemic so these are really positive signs of where our region is headed. Two additional, noteworthy indicators are the phenomenal success and growth, even during the pandemic, of Port Manatee and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.
Robin Miller, President & CEO, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce
We have three of the bigger beach communities in the region, which all have major opportunities on open land that can be developed and a lot of properties that can be redeveloped. That is a very specific focus within the municipality and in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. We are excited to announce that in 2022, we have a great project in partnership with the City of St. Pete Beach, where we will be awarded $50,000 by that municipality to reinvest in businesses with specific qualifications. These are infrastructure investments. That helps from a redevelopment standpoint.
Kelly Flannery, President & CEO, South Tampa Chamber
Everyone is aware of Water Street and Sparkman Wharf in Downtown but there are numerous other important development projects underway. The West Shore Marina District has recently opened, which is a multi-use development with apartments, condos and businesses. Hyde Park Village, which was the first open-air shopping and entertainment district in Tampa, has undergone an incredible reinvention over the past five years. Midtown was a great visionary project that helped to bridge neighborhoods and create a name for a previously unbranded area. As we move forward, we’re going to see more and more of these developments. It’s been exciting to see these pockets of space either come into a new identity or refresh an old identity throughout the city. It’s unique for a city of our size to have all of these mini-communities and experiences.
We have new businesses opening weekly and we continue to get phone calls daily from people who are looking to open new businesses in our community. South Tampa has a very bright future and the Chamber is excited to be a part of this growth and serve as a resource for businesses.
For more information, visit: