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Welcome new investor, Tampa Bay RAIN

July 11, 2012

We’re excited to share that Tampa Bay has a new professional basketball team, the Tampa Bay RAIN. Furthermore, we’re proud to announce that they have joined as a Tampa Bay Partnership investor at the Advisor level. The Tampa Bay RAIN, conceived under the laws of the State of Florida, is a corporation formed to provide the City of Tampa with a professional basketball team with winning traditions, as well as jobs and long-term growth for the community. The team management consists of nine Tampa Bay area directors under leadership of Stephen Davis, CEO of Steve Davis Financial Investors, LLC, a company that provides capital to startup businesses and existing growing firms still in the growth stages.

Our Tampa Bay professional sports teams serve as important drivers in our economy. They not only contribute to our attractiveness as a travel destination, but also enhance our quality of life. The addition of another pro team serves as a great success story for our growing Human Performance industry cluster, identified as an area of strength and opportunity in the Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay. With six pro sports teams located here in Tampa Bay, the region is an ideal location for athletic training both during and off season.

Naturally, entrepreneurship is a topic that Mr. Davis is passionate about. He looks forward to learning more about how he can support our local startup community and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem through the Regional Business Plan.

Advancing the Regional Business Plan: Collaborating to meet Tampa Bay’s IT workforce needs

June 27, 2012

Tampa Bay economic development groups are working together on an information technology (IT) workforce gap analysis project to:

  • Identify the specific tech skills needed by area companies,
  • Find ways to train and provide work experience to more people in those skills, and
  • Foster systematic and clear communication between Tampa Bay schools, community colleges and universities and local companies about current and future workforce needs.

The goal, as noted in a recent Tampa Bay Times article, is to align workforce development to the needs of business while presenting the greater Tampa Bay region as one of the more cutting edge players in technology.  Research data and the resulting strategies and tactics will be developed over the next two months and delivered to the community in late August.

Project collaborators include the Tampa Bay Partnership, Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Pinellas County Economic Development, Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF), WorkNet Pinellas, Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance, and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. Additional support is provided by the Central Florida Development Council, Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, Hernando County Office of Business Development, Manatee Economic Development Corporation, and Pasco Economic Development Council.

This project was developed in response to local tech companies having trouble finding the “right talent” to fill their open positions – proof that Tampa Bay has the high-wage sustainable jobs that will drive our economy now and in the future.  According to a Tampa Bay Business Journal article, there are about 700 open jobs in technology fields in Tampa Bay, and the three major colleges that feed this sector with entry-level employees produce about 400 graduates every year.

If you are an employer of IT workers, please take a moment to complete this survey:  Additionally, please feel free to share this link with your networks so that the project team might paint the most comprehensive picture of the Tampa Bay IT workforce as possible.

Tech entrepreneurs to talk venture capital at Front Row Tampa Bay

May 16, 2012

Garrett Johnson, Co-Founder, SendHubFront Row Tampa Bay is excited to announce that Garrett Johnson, Tampa native and Co-Founder of SendHub – a recent Y Combinator graduate and recipient of $2 million in seed funding from Kapor Capital in California, will be joining the discussion around technology and innovation during its four days of live-streamed Web television programming the last week of August. A Tampa Bay Partnership initiative, Front Row is THE communications vehicle to tell Tampa Bay’s unique business story to the world during the Republican National Convention.

Historically, Tampa Bay has seen a significant amount of entrepreneurial and start-up activity and standalone efforts to promote innovation-based growth, but has lacked the systematic region-wide support, coordination and collaboration that could springboard these start-ups toward success. Now, through the efforts of the Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay and other region-wide initiatives, Tampa Bay has seen a shift towards becoming an entrepreneurial ecosystem for venture capital, and potentially future home to companies such as SendHub. Garrett will be joining fellow entrepreneurs and innovators on the Front Row stage to discuss how Tampa Bay can and is meeting their start-up needs in creating this ecosystem.

I am really excited about the support Tampa Bay Partnership is giving tech startups like SendHub,” said Johnson. “Tampa Bay has produced many awesome entrepreneurs – representing every part of the region – and it’s great that we are promoting our brand as a hub of innovation. All of the buzz surrounding the RNC events will add incredible momentum,” he added.  Learn more about SendHub.

RNC Collaborative Marketing Efforts Gaining Momentum

May 1, 2012

www.frontrowtampabay.comWith a little more than 100 days until the 2012 Republican National Convention, area economic development agencies and business organizations are building collaborative networks to support a variety of marketing initiatives to take full advantage of the national and international spotlight focused on Tampa Bay before, during and after the RNC.

Front Row Tampa Bay, a hosting and communications platform and nationwide marketing campaign led by the Tampa Bay Partnership, has already signed on 18 economic development and business organizations as supporting sponsors.  Participating organizations include:

A national marketing outreach effort will culminate in a four day Web TV event – Livestreaming across the country and around the globe – showcasing key business innovations and trends within and beyond the Tampa Bay region.  During this four day event, we will be staging substantive discussions around critical business issues and hosting key influencers to participate in these discussions.  More information is available at

In addition to Front Row Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Partnership is participating in a co-op marketing program, led by Tampa Bay & Company, along with the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, Tampa Convention Center, Tampa International Airport, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Westshore Alliance, Tampa Downtown Partnership, and the Tampa Port Authority.  The co-op program includes a fully integrated marketing approach involving a strategic public relations and media campaign, target advertising, social media, and a media and client familiarization trip.

“The level of collaboration between organizations is unprecedented and speaks volumes about what this region can do when we work together,” said Vincent Dolan, Chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership.  “The various efforts really complement one another and provide an array of opportunities for organizations large and small to tell the Tampa Bay story.”

“The Republican National Convention has provided us with an exciting platform to enhance our community economic development efforts,” said Rick Homans, President and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC.  “We’re pleased that the partnership opportunities presented by Front Row Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay & Company Co-Op Marketing Program will allow us to showcase the region, maximize our outreach initiatives, and set the stage for increased collaboration moving forward.”

“We are excited to be an integral part of the initiatives being spearheaded by the economic development agencies across Tampa Bay,” said President & CEO of Tampa Bay & Company Kelly Miller.  “We know that efforts such as Front Row Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay & Company Marketing Co-op and will provide a new level of positive exposure for our destination and the economic development opportunities that exist here.”

Leaders convene to move Regional Business Plan forward

April 18, 2012

Special post from John Schueler, Chair of the Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay initiative
Nearly 100 team members convened at a St. Petersburg College Collaborative Labs engagement to establish the top priorities for the Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay and to architect the growth of 150,000 jobs within four industry clusters.

Over the last few months, the Tampa Bay Partnership led and organized teams around the industry clusters identified by SRI in a first-of-a-kind Regional Business Plan for the Tampa Bay region. Economic Development agencies from each of the eight counties along with the Regional Workforce Boards worked together to finance the study in partnership with a federal Economic Development Administration grant. Now that the teams have digested the study’s findings, at Collaborative Labs they sorted and prioritized the top actions and outcomes designed to connect business needs with enabling solutions.

The extraordinary outcome of the day was the diversity of and collaboration among team members. Contributors included senior business executives, academic scholars, researchers and economic development professionals.

Rick Weddle, CEO of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission who previously led the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh/Durham told us during his opening remarks, “You’ve got it right”, and he went on to say that our approach is the best he’d seen.

We need your help. Please join us on Tuesday, May 1st from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. for the first Regional Business Plan Advisory Board meeting and hear from Leadership Council and Working Group representatives to learn more about our progress to date and, most importantly, provide your feedback on the priorities identified. Your valuable input at this meeting is critical to moving this regional plan forward.

The meeting will be held at St. Petersburg College – Seminole Campus located at 9200 113th St. N., Seminole. Sponsorship opportunities are available for this event. For more information and to RSVP, contact Kasey Smith at

Regional Business Plan in Action: Tampa Bay’s first-ever Research Council forms

April 4, 2012

Special post from Stuart L. Rogel, President & CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership

Last night, John Schueler, Chair of our Regional Business Plan for Tampa Bay initiative, and I joined Michael Van Butsel and Tom McLain, Co-Chairs of BioFlorida’s Western Chapter and other leaders from the Tampa Bay Chapter of BioFlorida for the first-ever meeting of Tampa Bay’s flagship Research Council. The meeting was successful and truly regional in nature with representation from across Tampa Bay. Included among the approximate 20 attendees were Dr. Michael Tolentino of the Center for Retina and Molecular Disease in Polk County, James Humphrey with the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, Dr. Michael Epstein from All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Dr. Karen A. Holbrrok with the USF Office of Research, among other notable leaders.

This effort is being chaired by Dr. Debbie Sutherland, CEO of USF Health’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning & Simulation (CAMLS), who seemed pleased with the collaboration that took place and the outcomes of the Council’s first meeting. The group identified an initial list of priorities important to the various research institutions across the region. Among them are:

  • to build a network of research organizations in the region,
  • share common databases, and
  • take inventory of Tampa Bay’s current research organizations, mapping the assets and resources for these institutions.

Chris Paradies of Fowler White Boggs P.A. and Chair of the Regional Business Plan’s Applied Medicine & Human Performance Working Group shared with the Council the work that has been accomplished to date through the efforts of the Regional Business Plan, including a heat map of Tampa Bay’s clinical trial assets. Throughout the discussion, the group became much more familiar with our region’s current assets in this area. Many of them had no idea how many exist. With the Florida Blood Bank, the Lion’s Eye Institute, and our Universities among many others, Tampa Bay already serves as a research and innovation hub waiting to be leveraged. Chris also pointed out that the formation of the Research Council is a specific initiative outlined in the plan and that its creation is a huge accomplishment in the plan’s implementation.

Moving forward, the group will hold a series of regular meetings to further flesh out these priorities and really shape the role of the Tampa Bay Research Council, the first one being in June. Until then, the group agreed that key individuals were missing from the table and will be working together to identify these folks and determine the best way to expand.  

Creation of this Council represents exactly what the Regional Business Plan aims to do, build upon and leverage our region’s existing strengths and opportunities to grow high-value business and create high-wage, sustainable job growth. I look forward to seeing the results that this group produces.

Let’s Graduate Tampa Bay!

March 27, 2012

On Monday, March 26, higher education presidents and local business leaders came together for a press event to launch Graduate Tampa Bay (GTB), a critical higher-education campaign established through the ONE BAY: Lifelong Learning initiative to rally the entire Tampa Bay region to elevate our region’s 21st Century workforce. Building a more competitive workforce is the goal; the objective is simple: boost the region’s graduation rates by motivating the nearly 700,000 Tampa Bay residents with some college credit, but no degree. If 30,000 of these folks earn their degree – a 1% increase in Tampa Bay’s college attainment rate – an economic impact of $3.06 billion would result.

A common theme among the college presidents and business leaders in attendance was collaboration. The University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, Polk State College, St. Petersburg College,  Pasco-Hernando Community College, Saint Leo University, Devry University, and the Tampa Bay business community are all working together to create pathways for students to graduate and to become competitive in the global community.

John Ramil, President & CEO of TECO Energy, said at the event, “the only real, sustainable competitive advantage is to be a learning organization.” “Investing in employee education pays huge dividends,” he added. Through a partnership with Hillsborough Community College, TECO currently has more than 370 student employees, over 90 of which have already completed their degrees. This is just one example of how partnerships between Tampa Bay’s businesses and education institutions can successfully build a stronger, more competitive workforce.  

At the event, students also presented testimonials on how going back to school has changed their lives. The most moving of which was Rich, a student at Pasco-Hernando Community College who was formerly homeless and living out of his car. Today, Rich has been accepted to three major universities and is waiting to hear from a few more before making his decision on where he’ll attend to complete his Bachelors degree. He shared that the programs offered at his community college turned his life around by helping him attain his GED and begin his college career. His number one piece of advice: don’t quit no matter what.

A higher graduation rate means greater success and an improved quality of life for many of our residents. This, in turn, leads to a more prosperous region overall. By supporting this effort, we can make a positive impact on our entire region and contribute to the growth of Tampa Bay’s global competitiveness and business productivity. To learn how to get involved with Graduate Tampa Bay, visit

See coverage of the campaign launch in:

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