Another Economic Development Report
Robert Trigaux of the Times has a column on the latest report on how to increase economic development in the Tampa Bay area. You can find the executive summary here and the full report here.
Tampasphere has not read the full report yet, but we have read the executive summary. It all sounds good – network, regional unity, develop local businesses, showcase higher wage sectors here. We are all for that.
As Mr. Trigaux also points out accurately, we have heard a lot of this before. It sounded good before, too – especially about acting as a region, rather than as separate communities. While this is pretty obvious to most people, it seems to always have a hard time being realized. (Just a reminder that the present mayor of St. Petersburg is the same guy who wanted to change the name of the Tampa Bay [Devil] Rays to the St. Petersburg Anythings. ).
The Executive Summary does not address infrastructure, planning or creating an attractive urban environment to both draw and retain talent. For instance, how will Tampa Bay compete with Orlando’s “Medical City” – where all the biomed and healthcare industries can be concentrated in one location following a pattern set in many places (Houston comes to mind). Where is that going to be? If it is near the USF Medical School (a logical choice), is Pinellas going buy in – hopefully, but, sadly, there is little evidence for it. There is also mention of destination medical care, but we need a concerted effort to make Tampa Bay more accessible to people willing to travel than competitors for that market – so back to the airport issues.
Interestingly, the executive summary said nothing about developing the port[s] (or both Tampa and Port Manatee – the more the merrier) as a gateway to the world for products produced here and leveraging that asset to develop business.
Moreover, it is always smart to emphasize developing what we already have – and we are all for it, but the area also needs to really work at attracting other companies and businesses. Finally, we understand the need to target marketing in certain sectors, but you never know what the next big thing in going to be and should not foreclose the possibility of developing or attracting it.
In sum, there is a lot of work to be done.