Bucs primed for success this year in the Bay

Bucs primed for success this year in the Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read September 2020 There were points this summer where it seemed impossible to fathom how the National Football League would be able to reorganize itself to work in a pandemic landscape. Fast forward to present day and the league has been able to return in a resounding fashion, with telecasts like Week 1’s New Orleans Saints versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attracting an average audience of 25.85 million viewers, which FOX credited as its most watched telecast since Super Bowl LIV in February 2020. And while this game may have ended in a loss for the Buccaneers, there is a lot to be excited about in Tampa Bay for this upcoming season on and off the field. 

March 2020 marked a momentous moment for longtime fans of the Bucs when the announcement was made that six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady would be taking his talents to Tampa Bay. Brady’s Buccaneers jersey quickly became the league’s highest selling football jersey prior to the start of the 2020 season. With Brady at the helm, it wasn’t long before multiple big name free agents fixed their sights on the Bucs franchise and were quickly added to the roster, including tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Jason Pierre Paul, running back LeSean McCoy and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The addition of Tom Brady and increased talent level on the overall team has ultimately resulted in financial benefits as well. The Tampa Bay franchise, which in 2018 was valued at an estimated $2 billion, is now worth an estimated $2.3 billion.  

This reinvigorated roster has also reignited the fanbase for Tampa Bay’s football team who have not seen a postseason victory or success since their sole Super Bowl win in 2002. The team, which ranked 30th in fan attendance in 2019 with an average of 51,898, now faces a new challenge, but this time, it’s not due to lack of ticket sales. Although the return of football may have returned some sense of normalcy to people’s daily lives, there are still the constant reminders of the current pandemic that the world finds itself in. For football, one of those reminders is the limited capacity of fans allowed at stadiums across the league. The Bucs, who saw a surge in season tickets sales for this season, have now also had to come to terms with what these crowd restrictions will mean for the near-term future. This has resulted in the team making the decision to hold their first two home games with no fans in attendance, much to the dismay of Gov. Ron DeSantis who hoped these games would serve as an example of how Tampa Bay is prepared to host this season’s Super Bowl. 

“I really want to be able to show that Tampa is going to be a great place to host the Super Bowl,” DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times. “Showing this community is ready to host a great Super Bowl, having some fans there would’ve been a good first step. It’s not where we need to be.” The Bucs are currently looking toward a tentative reintroduction of some fans to Raymond James Stadium in their game against the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 18.

Nonetheless, residents of Tampa Bay can take comfort in knowing that the region they call home will also be home to this year’s Super Bowl. Tampa Bay has, seemingly overnight, become one of the football meccas in the nation. 

Adaptation, innovation are the new normal for legal professionals

Adaptation, innovation are the new normal for legal professionals

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read August 2020 In the span of just a couple of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted, in some form or fashion, every sector of the economy in the United States. In fact, Dori Foster-Morales, current president for the Florida Bar, was recently quoted as saying, “Everyone’s lives have changed, and anyone who says it hasn’t just doesn’t get it. I look at it like we’re in a tunnel, and we have to figure out a way to get out of it.” 

The idea of adaptation is nothing new for the legal sector as over the last decade it has seen an uptick in its professionals embracing the benefits newer technologies and innovations can bring to their operations. With the onslaught of challenges caused by the pandemic, it has become a necessity for legal professionals to quickly embrace innovation and truly adapt to an uncertain landscape. 

One of the most significant changes for legal professionals, and most business sectors for that matter, was the swift adaptation that had to happen to a work from home environment. While some in the legal world may have viewed this as just a temporary measure during this time of pandemic, the reality is beginning to set in that this may not be just a temporary solution for some. In an article posted by Law.com, it discusses how the idea of remote work as it pertains to the legal profession may have seemed like a foreign concept even a year ago but now has become a viable and workable option for the future thanks to technology platforms like Zoom. Video conferencing platforms have quickly become the norm for legal teams to collaborate, communicate and in some cases even conduct depositions using this technology. Technologies like Docusign, which had already been in use by the legal world, have expanded their solutions to include options like online notarization. While this technology had been available prior to COVID-19, the forced adaptation caused by work from home measures has seen the legal sector begin a transformation that, prior to the pandemic, may have taken years and is now coming to fruition in mere months. 

Technological embrace has not been the only adaptation from the legal community, as this time has given firms the opportunity to evaluate their teams, understand their clients’ changing needs and ultimately refocus some of their practice groups to engage and prepare to handle issues stemming from the pandemic. In an interview with Abovethelaw.com, Mark W. Brennan, lead innovation partner at Hogan Lovells, spoke on this type of adaptation as well as the opportunity to continue to strengthen communication efforts between a firm and its clients. “Communication throughout this pandemic is absolutely critical — and so is the strength of your culture,” Brennan said. “We are keeping a steady flow of information to our clients and our people to explain how our response is evolving. These efforts include keeping our clients informed on the latest developments affecting their business, as well as keeping our people informed about our firm and ways to stay safe.”

In the Tampa Bay region, a variety of firms have taken heed of this opportunity for adaptation, with some already refocusing parts of their practice to prepare for what they are imagining could be an influx of demand for legal services as it pertains to bankruptcy, business restructurings, M&A activity and other challenges associated with the pandemic. 

To learn more about how the legal sector is adapting to this changing environment, register now for the Invest: Tampa Bay 2020 Virtual Launch Conference. The conference, which takes place on Aug. 20 at 11:30 a.m., will feature three robust panels, including a legal panel moderated by Kevin Johnson, managing partner of Johnson Jackson, with panelists Marie Tomassi, managing shareholder and president of Trenam Law; Michael Lundy, managing shareholder of Older, Lundy and Alvarez; Bill Schifino, managing partner of Gunster; and Alan Higbee, managing partner of Shutts & Bowen. 


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Making the right financial choices in economic uncertainty

Making the right financial choices in economic uncertainty

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read July 2020 To say the least, the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of an unexpected wildfire to peoples’ health and financial stability. While the onus can’t be placed on the general public for not being prepared for something they didn’t expect, the past four months have proven that personal prosperity in the future will rely on preparing for the worst and expecting the unexpected. Coming on the heels of President Trump’s most recent address on the COVID-19 pandemic where he appeared to change tack and was quoted as saying, “It will get worse before it gets better,” it has never been more vital for individuals to make sound financial decisions as they are now faced with an economically uncertain future. Invest: explores some of the best practices for safe-guarding personal finances in the current economic climate.


Establish a relationship with your banking institution

There was a time when having an established relationship with your bank and a banker was a common practice, whether it was personal or business-related. Fast forward to 2020 and what was once commonplace has become more of a rarity, especially as it pertains to people’s personal finances. This in large part due to the ease of fintech and mobile banking technologies that have eliminated the need to visit a brick and mortar banking branch. Now with certain aspects of the CARES Act reaching their deadlines with no extension currently in place, like the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments that are scheduled to run out this week, it would be advisable to visit your banking institution and continue to foster that relationship. If you don’t have a bank for your personal finances, now is as good a time as any to explore the variety of banking options available in the Tampa Bay region and find one that will best suit your personal financial needs. 

Create a budget and stick to it 

According to Forbes, “about half of Americans reported they had three months of expenses in savings for emergencies” while almost “40% said they would struggle to cover a $400 expense in cash.” In times of economic growth and prosperity, it is always advisable to establish a budget that allows you to tuck away some money in the case of unforeseen circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic is the most significant unexpected circumstance in recent years. For those who did not already have an established budget prior to the pandemic, the last four months may have been quite difficult to push through. With no end date on the horizon for this crisis, it is now crucial to establish a livable budget with an emphasis on intentional spending and a more frugal lifestyle. 

Find ways to cut back unneeded expenses

Before COVID-19, Tampa Bay was in line for another record-breaking year in terms of economic growth, which set a positive tone that permeated throughout the local community and people’s spending habits. Now faced with a year of economic pullback, it is time to reassess how you are spending your money and find the areas where you can cut back. An article by Forbes discusses understanding your “spending triggers” and addressing them head on. This can be in the form of recognizing that you don’t need to spend money on the daily coffee from your local coffee shop and instead brew your own at home, or stopping a habit of needless spending on e-commerce hubs stemming from boredom. One of the easiest expenses to cut back on is dining out and takeout. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that in 2018, consumers spent an annual average of $3,459 on these options. With a large majority of businesses still offering work from home to their employees, it is the perfect time to sharpen those culinary skills. 

Continue to reinvest in yourself

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an unemployment rate of 10.4% for the state of Florida in June 2020. This number can be directly attributed to the fallout from the economic challenges that the pandemic has presented to all business sectors. While there is no way to 100% recession-proof yourself as it pertains to job security, and ultimately financial security, you can continue to make yourself as valuable an asset as possible by strengthening your skill sets and acquiring new ones. This may be in the form of continuing education, picking up a new skill set in your free time or even just pushing yourself the extra mile at your job. There is no way to be immune from layoffs and furloughs, but reinvesting in yourself and your work can make that decision a lot harder for a company if it ever comes time. 

These practices toward making sound financial decisions don’t just apply to individuals, as most companies have also applied these ideas to their operations in order to acclimate to the current economic conditions. For example, a variety of businesses in the region have leveraged their relationships with their banking institutions to help them with PPP loan applications and acquiring any additional funding that is available to them. Businesses have reorganized their budgets and found ways to cut back unneeded expenses, which unfortunately has sometimes come in the form of laying off portions of their workforce. Finally, almost every business has had to reinvest in their operations and in some ways reinvent themselves to continue on through these unprecedented times. 

To learn more about making the right financial choices in this economic uncertainty as it pertains to your business or personal well-being, register now for the Invest: Tampa Bay 2020 Virtual Launch Conference! The conference, which takes place on Aug. 20 at 11:30 a.m., will feature three robust panels including a banking and finance panel moderated by Rita Lowman, president of Pilot Bank, with panelists Gregory Kadet, managing director of UBS Wealth Management; Terry Igo, CEO of Tampa Bay Trust Company; Scott Perry, chairman and CEO of AmeriLife Group; and Travis Jennings, CEO of Finance Cape. 

If ever there was a time to seriously look at your finances and improve your financial standing, it’s now. Get started by registering to access these valuable insights.

Understanding and addressing the current reality

Understanding and addressing the current reality

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

The Tampa Bay region, like everywhere else, is feeling the deep impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with Invest:, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce CEO Robin Miller reflects on the economic fallout from the pandemic, how the chamber is supporting local businesses and what role the community can play to help businesses through this unprecedented crisis.


What have you already seen in terms of economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the business community in the Tampa Bay region?


There has been unprecedented impact in nearly every sector; however, hospitality is at the top of those extremely impacted. When you look at this from the loss of jobs to the closure of hotels, this trickle effect impacts sales tax generated as well. For many years, we would have communities and people complain about visitors and tourists here. Now, the unfortunate reality is that this is what it looks like when we don’t have tourism in our communities.

How is your organization working to assist the business community in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic?


We are working extremely hard to provide clear and concise information; assisting businesses in navigating and understanding the stimulus; and lastly, but more importantly, we have created a partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay and are providing food pantries once a week and access to produce.

Do you feel the business community is receiving enough state and federal support?


I think it is a good start; however, we are advocating strongly for sector-driven financial support that are not loans. The anxiety and stress of no business at all and keeping people employed is debilitating, and then the pure thought they will need to take out loans is overwhelming. This is a line item in a businesses budget that was not planned. They need access to grants and more of it. I think local governments can play a key role in this as well.

How can the community best assist the local businesses in this time of need?


Be patient with businesses as they now have a new normal to exist in. Once we start staggering the openings of our local communities and businesses, we all need to create a new plan to support them. We will all be on limited funds for months to come. I suggest that whenever we need something, let’s not immediately open an Amazon web window. Let’s instill a behavior that we immediately access our local options first. If you think you can get it on Amazon cheaper, tell your local business that. We need to band together in this support now more than ever.

For more information on our interviewee, visit: 


Face Off: Bringing More Energy to the Bay

Face Off: Bringing More Energy to the Bay

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read February 2020 As the Tampa Bay region continues to grow both in population size and new developments, the need for access to more energy and cleaner energy solutions grows with it. Invest: spoke with the leaders of two of the main sources of energy for the region and their innovative approach to creating cleaner energy solutions. T.J. Szelistowski serves as the president for Peoples Gas, which has provided Florida residents and businesses with reliable, environmentally-friendly, economical natural gas products and service since 1895. Nancy Tower leads Tampa Electric as its president and CEO. The utility has served the Tampa Bay area for 120 years, with more than 5,000MW of generating capacity. 

How is your company innovating in terms of technology?

T.J. Szelistowski: The last time we spoke, we discussed implementing gas-fired heat pumps that use natural gas instead of electricity for air conditioning. We are working with several customers on installations of this technology.  Additionally, we have installed the technology in three of our facilities and have been pleased with the performance.  

In terms of other technologies, we are targeting farming and waste facilities that release methane into the air. Our environmental solution is to capture that methane and clean it up to reinject it into the system. This not only provides a cleaner form of natural gas but also reduces methane emissions. We look forward to announcing some significant projects with this technology in the near future.

Nancy Tower: We believe battery storage is a part of our energy future. The technology is new, and we’re not ready to deploy that on a large scale until we figure out the true impact it will have on our system. We have put in place a battery storage project this year near our Big Bend solar project, which will give us really good information on how solar and battery storage interacts with our system. We’re really looking at how we can integrate battery storage into the complexity of the renewable energy ecosystem.

In other technologies, we are also in the middle of a large-scale installation of smart meters, which provide a lot more information and allow us to provide customers with superior service. 

T.J. Szelistowski

Why has investment in cleaner, more renewable energy and environmental sustainability been such a focus for your company?

Szelistowski: Natural gas is the perfect partner to renewable solar energy to provide capacity when the sun is not shining and to ensure energy is available to customers around the clock. Additionally, natural gas can provide great environmental benefits by replacing diesel fuel usage in large vehicles, such as buses and waste-management trucks.   

 A variety of ships are starting to convert to natural gas because of changing environmental regulations, specifically IMO 2020, which slashes permissible levels of sulfur permitted in fuel for seaborne vessels to minimal levels and opens the door for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative.

Tower: The biggest factor is that customers want it. When thinking back over the last few years, the number of people focused on a cleaner environment has increased exponentially. This is symbolic of the focus citizens and our customers have on environmental stewardship, and that is not going away. We are very happy with our progress.

I think it’s our obligation on behalf of customers to demonstrate that clean energy is not only our responsibility in terms of an environmental perspective, but also from a cost perspective. We are focused on both of those things simultaneously. As the entity generating electricity, we have the responsibility of doing that in the most responsible way.

Nancy Tower

How would you respond to the argument that clean energy is not yet cost-effective or readily available?  

Szelistowski: Natural gas interstate transmission pipelines are relatively new to Florida compared with the Northeast, having been introduced only in the 1950s. In addition, natural gas is a primary source of space heating in many parts of the country. With limited space heating in Florida, natural gas is primarily used for cooking, water heating and clothes drying in addition to industrial uses. We see a great desire for natural gas by people who have moved from other parts of the country and have enjoyed using natural gas in the past.  

In terms of misconceptions, people do not realize the widespread availability of natural gas in Florida. Additionally, they may not realize the affordable nature of home and business use of natural gas. With low and steady gas prices, natural gas provides a great alternative to both business and homes.  

Tower: It is our job to ensure that our generation portfolio is the most cost-effective for customers. Over the long term, we have carried out extensive cost modeling to ensure we can meet these expectations. In the next number of years, we will add more solar capacity and our generation will include more small-scale methods combined with battery storage. This doesn’t come without hard work and we need to find the right ways to keep costs low. This involves finding the right land close to our transmission infrastructure, ensuring suppliers are providing competitive prices and efficient cost management. Costs have come down, but we need to ensure we tightly manage this.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:



Commercial Real Estate to Remain Steady in 2020

Commercial Real Estate to Remain Steady in 2020

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 If there were ever a time or place to consider investing in commercial real estate, now would be that time and the Tampa Bay region would be that place. 2019 proved to be another banner year for the real estate sector and with interest rates remaining low, consistent inmigration into Florida and the Tampa Bay region, rising rental rates and ongoing outside investment into the area, all indicators point to 2020 being just as strong if not better for the commercial real estate sector. 



2 min read February 2020 If there were ever a time or place to consider investing in commercial real estate, now would be that time and the Tampa Bay region would be that place. 2019 proved to be another banner year for the real estate sector and with interest rates remaining low, consistent inmigration into Florida and the Tampa Bay region, rising rental rates and ongoing outside investment into the area, all indicators point to 2020 being just as strong if not better for the commercial real estate sector. 

“Around $17 billion has migrated to Florida, the No. 1 destination for capital in the country followed by Texas, at $2 billion. People are leaving states that are not tax friendly and coming to Florida, which is very tax friendly. Because the stock market can go up or down, hard assets are attractive. The returns investors can get in commercial real estate are attractive. People are looking at commercial real estate as a means for retirement, passive income,” Christopher Travis, sales manager for the Tampa office of Marcus & Millichap, remarked to Invest:.  

Perhaps the clearest indication of the sector’s continued success has been the large-scale mixed-use projects that are happening throughout the region. Larry Richey, the managing principal and Florida market leader for Cushman & Wakefield, spoke about what these developments mean for the sector. 

“The most talked about projects happening in Tampa Bay at the moment are in the office and mixed-use sectors. In the Hillsborough County market, we have four mixed-use projects that are all very active. Those four new projects are Water Street Tampa in Downtown, Heights Union just on the northern fringe of Downtown, the Midtown project that is being developed at the intersection of I-275 and Dale Mabry and fourth is the MetWest project in the Westshore District on Boy Scout Boulevard,” Richey told Invest:. “We are seeing the highest office rents in the history of the Tampa Bay area right now, and it is because we have the strongest demand for office space that we have ever had. This is good news because it means new development and jobs in the commercial real estate sector. It also means that buildings that were always below what they should have been charging are now charging rents that are justifiable based on the investment that people have put into these properties.” 

These projects, and ultimately the continued success of commercial real estate in Tampa Bay, are the product of taking note and early adaptation to emerging and developing trends within the industry and local economy. While basically all subsectors of commercial real estate are prospering, there are some that industry professionals are keen to keep a particularly close eye on. What may come as a surprise to some is that one of these prosperous submarkets is retail. 

“The retail market continues to be very strong here.  Demand continues to exceed supply in many of the strongest retail markets throughout Tampa Bay.  This continues to drive up rental rates and has limited cap rate decompression for stabilized retail assets,” Scott Dobbins, the founder and principal of Hybridge Commercial Real Estate, said. 

Travis agreed that retail remains one of the stronger segments in commercial real estate, touching on the fact that the e-commerce trend is not as bad as some may think. “Retail has remained strong during the real estate market recovery. Everybody was scared about e-commerce, but it only makes up about 14% of the overall market. Retail is going to be just fine, especially retailers like dollar stores, gas stations, and fast food.” 

While all indications point to another strong year for the commercial real estate market, it will not be without its challenges. Besides 2020 being an election year that could possibly send the national economy into flux, Tampa Bay must address unaffordability in the housing sector and ongoing challenges with transportation in the region. 

Nonetheless, commercial real estate professionals continue to have a positive outlook for the Tampa Bay Region. 

It has always been in the core submarkets, like Westshore and the Central Business District (CBD). Historically, they’ve been the focus of development and I think that will continue. We are seeing new developments in areas like the Heights and Water Street Tampa. Time will tell how these developments impact the marketplace. I think they are both going to be extremely successful, but they are on the outskirts of the Tampa CBD. Perhaps we will see the core of the Tampa CBD start to shift,” Gary Godsey the Managing Director for JLL, said to Invest in regards to the next year for commercial real estate. “Additionally if you just look at the rooftops in Pasco County and in South County, it makes sense for these areas to be considered for future commercial real estate development, despite the lack of transportation. I think we will see developers get creative and maybe look at areas like this. If you look at the I-4 corridor, that is going to continue to be a main driver in the industrial sector.”

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Face Off: The Sunshine City’s Future Shines Bright

Face Off: The Sunshine City’s Future Shines Bright

By: Max Crampton-Thomas


4 min read January 2020 Deliberate, calculated and fast-moving are just a few of the ways to describe the economic growth happening in the city of St. Petersburg. Long known as the “Sunshine City,” St. Pete has developed into an economic and arts and culture powerhouse within the Tampa Bay Region. This is in large part thanks to efforts by a motivated business community and community leaders. Invest: spoke with two of the prominent figures in the St. Pete community about their organization’s efforts to maximize the potential of their city. J.P. DuBuque, the president of the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation, and Alison Barlow, the executive director of the St. Pete Innovation District, also discussed their view of the future and the challenges that await. 


How are you working to promote economic expansion in St. Petersburg?

J.P. DuBuque: As an EDC, our primary role is to help grow jobs in the St. Petersburg area. One way we can contribute to that is by attracting new companies into our community. The most effective means of doing this is by telling our story, and to tell the story we have to know what the story is. This means we have to understand what our local community looks like. We are spending a good bit of time focusing on our local community to really understand the targeted industries that we want to enhance and grow. We are working with groups like the data analytics community and marine science community to best understand their needs. This in turn relays to us where the opportunities lie to attract new businesses to the region. Apart from this, we spend a lot of time out of the market, meeting with individual companies and other markets to tell them the great story of doing business in St. Petersburg. Sometimes this is through coordinated business development missions, while other times it is by leveraging non- economic-development-related conferences like South by Southwest or through focused sales development efforts.

Alison Barlow: The entrepreneurial ecosystem and talent development are two big areas of focus for us. We are doing a program called Innovation Scholars, which provides unique job shadowing opportunities for first-year students at USF St. Petersburg. We have already paired 39 students with companies in the Innovation District and around Downtown. We are also exploring ways to incubate more marine technologies, such as sensors, drones and ROVs, as well as encouraging the link between marine and life sciences.

As part of our efforts to attract businesses and talent to the district, we offer a variety of office space types. We are also focusing on connecting people who are located near the St. Pete Innovation District and making them part of the district. We are supporting the creation of social spaces by encouraging restaurants and retailers to come to the area. We are also supporting the full range of housing, from fully-assisted affordable housing to workforce, multifamily and luxury condos.

From your perspective, what is one of the most significant challenges for economic growth in St. Petersburg?

DuBuque: The biggest challenge for us is perception versus reality, and I believe this is a statewide challenge. When you look at what people think regarding some of the things that are necessary to build a successful business, and a successful quality of life, there are some perception challenges for Florida. The perception that Florida is not a good business environment, and that our school systems are not up to par are a real challenge. The perception, and reality, of Florida’s lack of mass transit is a real issue that needs to be overcome. When we have an opportunity to show folks what the reality is, they are typically pleasantly surprised.

Barlow: We are leading conversations with local health institutions about how changes in our oceans have an impact on our people. Human and ocean health are becoming much more related. For example, last year we had a significant red tide, and while the marine scientists were looking at the causes that were making it worse and the impact on marine life, the physicians in our area were seeing an uptick in asthma issues due to the airborne aspect of red tide.

We have some of the best sea level rise experts in St. Petersburg. It is encouraging to see the progress of their research looking at temperature fluctuation, the infiltration of bacteria and nutrients in the water that is contributing to algae blooms such as blue-green algae and red tide. They are turning this deep research into practical knowledge for the community. 

What has you excited for the future economic growth in St. Petersburg?  

DuBuque: It is important to remember that growth is necessary for us to move forward as a society. If we are not growing as individuals and as a community, then we are actually moving backward. That said, the level of proactivity from the Economic Development Corporation allows us to select the types of businesses that we want to really bring here. That in and of itself will help move us forward. We also have a full community commitment to the Grow Smarter Strategy, which gives us a common road map for every person in the economic development game. Those things allow us to maintain the culture and character of St. Petersburg while still moving forward. The worst thing that we could do is to kill the golden goose, which for us is the vibrancy, authenticity, arts, creativity, innovation and “funk” of St. Pete.

Barlow: We are excited about our progress on our smart city project. The St. Pete Innovation District is partnering with Spectrum and US Ignite to test concepts around smart city technology to improve the lives of the people in our community. It is also a chance for us to try sensor technology and think about what it would mean for educational and workforce opportunities. We are getting closer to installing four smart light poles on the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus that will have power, internet and the ability to host environmental and traffic sensors.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:




No Lull for Football Fans in Tampa Bay

No Lull for Football Fans in Tampa Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 If the last few weeks in the Tampa Bay region have felt like a nonstop marathon of events and gatherings, that’s because it has been. While the region has been celebrating the multiple holidays and enjoying the dozens of holiday happenings around the area, there have also been some significant sporting milestones, specifically in the world of football. As the season closes for the NFL in Tampa Bay, another one begins for the new XFL and the beginning of 2020 also marked another successful bowl game in the Bay. 


The end of the NFL 2019 regular season was lamented by a 28 to 22 Buccaneers loss to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. While it was not the season Bucs fans were hoping for, it did leave some room for hope in the next season as well as some shining moments that will be enshrined in Buccaneers history. This season saw the complete dominance of what could possibly be the best wide receiver duo in the NFL, Buccaneers Mike Evans and Chris Goodwin. Between them they had almost 2,500 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns and they were both chosen to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl. 

Then there is the curious case of the Buccaneers starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who was just the eighth quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 passing yards in a season, becoming the passing yards leader for the 2019 season. This in itself should be a huge advantage on the resume of the quarterback, who was playing for a new contract this season, but that same resume for this year is marred with a new NFL record – Winston is the first quarterback to throw for 30 passing touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a single season. So while head coach Bruce Arians has a lot of positives on the offensive side heading into his first offseason with the Bucs, there are some significant decisions to be made this offseason in regards to the future face of the franchise. 

Jan. 1 not only marked the beginning of the new decade, it was also the day to catch the annual Outback Bowl held at Raymond James Stadium. The bowl game, which has been played in Tampa Bay since 1986, is a staple in the community and receives support from some of the largest local institutions like Pilot Bank and Visit Tampa Bay. The game itself saw the #18 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the #12 ranked Auburn Tigers in what was an exciting game through all four quarters. While both teams jumped out to strong starts in the first quarter, Minnesota capitalized on the momentum by scoring 14 in the 2nd quarter and ultimately Auburn was never able to make a push to get ahead. With Auburn trailing for the rest of the game, the final score resulted in a 31 to 24 victory for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. 

With the end of the Bucs season and the passing of another Outback Bowl, the Tampa Bay region would normally go into a football lull, but thanks to the introduction of a new XFL team, the Tampa Bay Vipers, there will be no shortage of football to enjoy. Invest: recently spoke with the president of the Tampa Bay Vipers, Josh Bullock, about the process of bringing this team to the region and why Tampa Bay is perfectly suited for another football franchise. “The process of bringing this team to Tampa Bay has been exciting, intense and rewarding. Thankfully, we have great leadership, both in the region and throughout the league, starting with the chairman of the XFL, who gave us the time and resources to build this league the right way,” Bullock stated. “We anticipate playing a fast, fun style of professional football at Raymond James Stadium for Tampa Bay fans. I believe Tampa Bay is perfectly suited for this XFL team because of the great sports fans we have throughout our community. There are many entertainment options available and our community will continue to gravitate to products that are enjoyable, engaging and offered at an affordable price. That is exactly what the XFL is going to provide.”

Football fans won’t have to wait long to start enjoying everything the XFL promises to provide as the first game is slated for Sunday, Feb. 9, against the New York Guardians. The team’s home opener at Raymond James Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, Feb 22, versus the Houston Roughnecks. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:



The Best Is Yet to Come in the Bay

The Best Is Yet to Come in the Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 2019 is officially in the books and was another monumental year for the Tampa Bay region. All sectors of the local economy were firing on all cylinders this past year, from the always popular tourism market to growing sectors like technology and healthcare. The continuing economic boom was complimented by a slew of memorable events that truly showcased the growth of the Tampa Bay region. As we now turn our focus toward 2020, it can be hard to imagine topping the success of the past year’s events but that is exactly what looks to be in store for residents and visitors in Tampa Bay. This comes as no surprise to leaders in the community like Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, who told Invest: that, “This region is starting to become everybody’s must-visit destination, which is awesome.”


Starting the year off is the historic 2020 Gasparilla Pirate Festival. This annual event has been held in the Tampa Bay region for over 100 years, and has grown into an eight-week extravaganza that is bustling with activities for families and adults alike. It should be noted that the event kicks off on Jan. 25 with the nation’s third-largest parade, and also features memorable events throughout the eight-week run like the Gasparilla Distance Classic on Feb. 22 and 23 in which people can participate in various types of running events. There is also the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and Gasparilla Music Festival, which is being headlined by national acts like Portugal. The Man. The event concludes with the Gasparilla International Film Festival. 

While all of the festivities that make up Gasparilla Pirate Festival lay the foundation for a great year of events, 2020 is also shaping up to be a historic year for the Tampa Bay region as it prepares to host it’s fifth Super Bowl and it’s first Wrestlemania. Super Bowl LV will mark the third time the event has been held at Raymond James Stadium, with the last one being played there in 2009. While the game itself won’t happen until Feb. 7, 2021, the region is already buzzing with hype and there will no doubt be multiple must-attend events in 2020 leading up to the big game. On the chance that the Buccaneers are able to have a big turnaround season in 2020, their home games will undoubtedly also become can’t-miss events. 

Perhaps the biggest Tampa Bay-based event actually happening in 2020 is Wrestlemania 36, which will also take place at Raymond James Stadium on April 5. Wrestlemania has been ranked by Forbes as the sixth-most valuable sports brand in the world, so the fact it is taking place in Tampa Bay is no small accomplishment. What is expected to be a sellout event at Raymond James Stadium is a testament to just how far the region has come from both an economic and tourism standpoint.   

Also on the list of incredible events happening within the region for 2020 is Florida’s largest annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, which takes place in St. Petersburg and is gearing up for what will most likely be another record-shattering attendance year. St. Pete Pride 2020 takes place this year from June 26-28 and is expected to attract over 250,000 people celebrating the beauty of diversity and inclusion, a true testament to the inclusive environment of the Tampa Bay community. 

2020 promises to be a lot of things for the Tampa Bay region: a year of more growth, more opportunity, more collaboration and definitely more unforgettable events. 

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