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/