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Roundup

September 30, 2011

There have been a number of things going on in the Tampa Bay area recently that deserve mention, if not a full post.

Transit

It seems more people are considering the possible utility of merging HART and PSTA to create a regional transit organization, including a State Senator. This is long overdue.  Though, as we noted, some seem intent on not letting this happen, even before figuring out if it is more efficient and saves taxpayer money.

Jobs

Time Warner is going to bring a “shared services center” to somewhere around Tampa. Eventually that is supposed to bring 500 or so jobs.  Excellent.

In St. Petersburg, there are moves afoot to help lure a pharmaceutical company (otherwise referred to as “biomed” but it is going to manufacture medicine, which seems to us like a pharmaceutical company).  If it comes through, it could bring 283 or so jobs.  Hopefully.  Manufacturing would be nice.

On the downside, Tampa lost another tech start-up to the other Bay Area.   The apparent cause of the move is the lack of tech friendly venture capital in the Tampa Bay area:

Britton noted that technology investing takes skill and a tolerance for risk, and there’s a common sentiment that “Tampa’s early-stage investors wouldn’t know a hot startup if it bit them on the rotary phone they use to dial up their AOL account.  But I think we can change that.”

Tampa Bay has plenty of wealthy investors, said George Gordon, chairman and chief executive of the energy software company Enporion and past chairman of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum.

“A lot of those people made their wealth in real estate or manufacturing and not so much tech,” Gordon said. “And people like to invest in things they know and understand and where they can add value.”

There are not a lot of jobs directly related to this company (now), but it is hard to develop a tech economy if there is no capital to invest and all the companies must leave once they get going.  See Wikipedia. Without a tech base, we will continue to suffer a brain drain.

The Port

The Port decided to begin negotiations with the present director for a two year extension. (See here and here).  What Tampasphere found interesting were the comments of one of the board members:

“We need an innovative leader that communicates a vision of how this economic engine is going to make things go,” Allman said. “You need to change your style.” A one-year deal would give him 18 months to fix communications with critics, Allman said.

Indeed, we could not have said it better.

Rays

First, Yea!

Second, there was another article about Rays attendance (low) in the Times.  It included this quote from the Mayor of St. Pete regarding the problems with attendance:

“Short of the economy, I’m out of excuses,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who has previously defended the ability of residents to support baseball. “There’s a huge sense of urgency, and we have to figure it out.”

Well, we are dubious about the lack of excuses.  Frankly, it is pretty easy to figure out, as the issue has been discussed for a while – bad location.  And, frankly, the unwillingness of some in St. Pete government to deal with the issue regionally exacerbates the problem.  But, once again, that is no surprise – as this quote from 2006 makes clear:

Some St. Petersburg city officials also have urged the team to dump the Tampa Bay in the name in favor of St. Petersburg.

“St. Pete anything,” said City Council Chairman Bill Foster. “I just think it’s time to recognize where the team plays and the commitment of the community that built the stadium.”

Hard to see how you are going to entice people from anywhere but St. Pete with that attitude.

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