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Roundup 8-5-2016

August 5, 2016

Contents

Transportation

— Money

– A Study This Way Comes

– Fare Warning

– Come, Sail Away

Cuba – Of Consulates

Transportation – Ugh, More PTC

Rays – Pinellas Push

Gasparilla – Come Together

Downtown/Channel District – Wondering What You Call It, Cont.

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

— What Are We Missing?

— Startup Power

— How to Plan

— Suburbs Can Work With Cities

______________________________________

Transportation

As usual, there was transportation news this week.

— Money

First, in the wake of the Go Hillsborough debacle, the County Commission is looking at potential funding sources for transportation improvements.  Well, actually, they are not – at least not all of them – looking.  Some have already settled on an idea.

After spending a year and seven figures on a transportation plan they ultimately scrapped, Hillsborough County commissioners are now sprinting toward a new solution that is so far sketchy on details.

The alternative proposal is completely different from the half-cent sales tax hike that commissioners rejected in June. Instead, taxes would stay at current rates and the county would dedicate one-third of all future growth in tax revenues toward roads, bridges, sidewalks and transit.

This plan is quickly gaining steam at the urging of Sandy Murman and Stacy White, two commissioners who fought against the sales tax surcharge. Commissioners voted Thursday to hold an Aug. 10 public hearing to consider the new proposal.

“I do believe it’s going to work for our citizens,” Murman said. “I believe we have enough revenue growth.”

We have discussed this countywide TIF before.  It is an interesting idea, at least partially.  It could fund some transportation though you have to be careful because you do not know what contingencies will be coming.  And you cannot count on revenue growth all the time (having lived through the great recession, that is clear).  Nevertheless, it is worth looking at.  The real question is why the rush to push this plan before looking at everything systematically?

There’s a sense of urgency to get this done before the county budget is approved on Sept. 15. If that happens, commissioners will have spent just three months weighing a momentous shift in county policy. The proposal calls for creating a countywide tax increment finance, or TIF, district, which is relatively untested.

Compare that to deliberations over the half-cent sales tax surcharge, which underwent dozens of meetings and a year of scrutiny from the commission, other local governments, the media and the public. And those debates were grounded in detailed breakdowns of how much the tax would raise and how it would be spent.

So far, none of those particulars have emerged for the new plan.

And that is where we have an issue.  Not that the sales tax was well vetted, but that there should be more examination (does not have to take so much wasted time as Go Hillsborough).

Proponents project that it would bring in about $1 billion over the next decade, with about half of that coming in the later years. That’s based on growth estimates taken from county Administrator Mike Merrill’s recommended budget through 2020 and an estimated 5 percent increase in revenue after that.

The county staff has so far not confirmed those figures. They estimated the half-cent sales tax would have raised an average of $117.5 million a year.

It may or may not raise that much money – it kind of depends on just what you take for transportation and what growth you have overall.  We just do not think it should be rushed into.  We are also not huge fans of a sales tax, if it can be avoided. Kind of like this:

Merrill, who strongly recommended the sales tax option, has said the new plan would likely eat into funding for other services as costs go up and the county grows.

White doubted that.

“I don’t think we’re going to have consequences,” White said. “You may see some legacy projects and wants fall by the wayside, but you certainly won’t see any needs.”

Once again, we are not so excited about a sales tax. However, usually, even when we disagree with this Commissioner, we think he speaks thoughtfully, but that comment is just silly-talk.  Of course a county-wide TIF will have consequences.  It may have consequences you are ok with, but they are still consequences.  And when you take money out of a pot and do not replace it, you have less money to spend everything else, things like EMS trucks.  That is why there needs to be a full review of what potential money there is – so that decisions can be made with open eyes and full knowledge.  There really is no reason to rush this year – especially since there is no comprehensive, coordinated, systematic plan.  And we are still waiting for the transit studies.

By all means look at this idea, but study all possibilities before deciding.

– A Study This Way Comes

Speaking of studies, the transportation study process is moving, slowly:

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority leaders are moving forward with plans to implement a regional transit feasibility study they say would poise the agency for federal dollars aimed at increasing multimodal mobility options.

The agency heard pitches from three firms last week to oversee the study.

In order to receive federal funding for transit projects, agencies have to follow a set of guidelines laid out by the Federal Transit Administration. That includes showing at least one viable regional transit corridor. Pinellas County has done that as part of its failed campaign to increase sales tax by one penny to fund sweeping transit improvements, but Hillsborough has not.

The feasibility study would remedy that and put Hillsborough in the running for the long and arduous process of obtaining federal dollars.

The study will evaluate whether or not purchasing CSX tracks to be converted into commuter rail is the best bet. However, that won’t be the only solution the study evaluates.

Which is fine.

The study will also include the “do nothing” approach that evaluates current traffic conditions and ways to deal with them without additional transit solutions.

Once the feasibility study is complete, HART would basically develop a measurable solution to present, showing a targeted regional corridor and a form of transit identified as the best solution.

HART plans to award a contract for the feasibility study sometime in early to mid-September with a notice to proceed issued at the beginning of October.

We are not particularly happy with HART controlling this process, but we are not sure what the alternative is.

The article tells us that this is part of TBX, and it is, sort of, but only because FDOT did this:

TBX came under fire by critics who argued it was a close-minded, roads-only approach to solving congestion. They also complained the project’s 91 miles of tolled express lanes will do little to solve congestion, while instead demolishing homes and businesses in neighborhoods where residents will reap the least benefit.

To answer those concerns, FDOT included funding for a feasibility study in order to take steps toward improving transit. The plan also includes a “footprint” for future premium transit options by building a foundation for light rail across the Howard Frankland Bridge and securing right-of-way in other areas.

In other words, FDOT (and probably local officials) is trying to buy off opposition to TBX by having a preliminary study of transit.  The study was not really part of the original TBX plan.  And the only reason it is part of TBX is because FDOT says it is.  The study could have happened without TBX. (In fact, it should have happened before the highway plan was made – to have a coordinated, rational system rather than spend billions on roads and not address other needs.)  Moreover, it is entirely possible that the study will just be a waste of time:

Once the feasibility study is complete, the next step requires a Preliminary Design and Engineering study that could cost anywhere from $2 million to $7 million. HART would ask the state legislature to help fund that portion of the process. That study would take about two to two and a half years to complete.

In other words, the two stages will take 5 years to get anywhere useful, and there isn’t even a guarantee there will ever be a step two.  Local officials should make sure they get step two funding before saying a highway plan is ok at all (of course, parts of TBX need to go).  We need a comprehensive, coordinated transportation plan, which is not TBX.  Though we are not going to hold our breath.

– Fare Warning

Speaking of HART, the regional transit fare box idea suffered a slight setback:

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority was not on the list of agencies awarded a prestigious federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant this year. The miss means the agency will have to identify alternative funding for a regional fare box system being spearheaded by HART.

The regional fare box system is aimed at making it easier to pay for rides on public transportation by creating a uniformed payment mechanism across the region in five counties. The system would allow users to pay with a smartphone or a digital fare card.

The TIGER grant wasn’t the only source of funding identified to pay for the system. HART will use a $1.9 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation and another $250,000 buy-in from the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority. Another $3.6 million will be split by HART and its counterpart across the Bay, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

Despite losing the grant, HART will continue to move forward with the plan and identify other ways of footing the rest of the cost.

Which is odd, especially with this:

The news comes after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Eagan spoke with U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx earlier this month lobbying for the grant in a conversation Kriseman’s office described as “positive.”

Kriseman had a stake in the grant. While the regional fare system would be most often used on buses and trollies because they are the most prevalent modes of public transportation, it could also apply to the ferry service set to begin in November that will transport passengers between downtown St. Pete and downtown Tampa. It’s a measure Kriseman has heavily backed.

This is the list of TIGER grants.  While they mostly seem to be about creating new kinds of connectivity through complete street ideas, it is a bit surprising that our area, working together, cannot get a little federal money for a regional transit project in an election year.  Makes you wonder.

– Come, Sail Away

Speaking of the ferry, there was some new regarding the St. Pete-Tampa ferry (as opposed to the South Hillsborough-MacDill ferry that the Port, among others, for whatever reason, has held up).

The Hillsborough County Commission gave its unanimous backing Wednesday to a project years in the making — a cross-bay ferry linking the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

* * *

The $1.4 million pilot project still needs approval from the Tampa and St. Petersburg City Councils today and the Pinellas County Commission next week. But those votes increasingly look like a formality.

The ferry could start carrying passengers as early as Nov. 1.

“This is another thing we can use to showcase our community,” Murman said.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman approached the County Commission about the cross-bay ferry in January. In a rare display of regional cooperation, Tampa, Hillsborough and Pinellas gave Kriseman the green light to negotiate a deal to make it happen.

The Tampa City Council also approved.  As did St. Pete, leaving on Pinellas County.  Remember, this is the trial run of a ferry with some interesting service (see handy system map):

From the Business Journal – click on map for article

The agreement reached requires HMS Ferries to operate a minimum of two trips a day between the two cities and three trips on Friday. A one-way trip will cost $10 per passenger, though it may fluctuate depending on “market conditions,” the agreement said.

We are not sure exactly what the schedule will be, but $10 one way is not really that practical for a real transportation tool (if you put 4 people in a car and share gas and parking costs, the ferry becomes much more expensive, even if it is more fun).  We understand it is a trial of the service, but if people want it to become a functioning service that many people use, you have to make it reasonable to use.

We hope the trial is successful, but all the planning should be for moving residents – the tourists will use it anyway.  We don’t need another streetcar situation.

Cuba – Of Consulates

There was more Cuba news this week.  First, there was a group of Cuban officials touring St. Pete:

Tampa has the historic and cultural link to Cuba, but it might be St. Petersburg that lands the first Cuban Consulate in the United States in more than five decades.

Alejandro Padrón, Cuba’s consular general from its embassy in Washington, D.C., and his second in command, Armando Bencomo, were in St. Petersburg on Saturday and took a tour of its real estate assets that was led by Dave Goodwin, the city’s director of planning and economic development.

Such a tour did not take place in Tampa.

“They have some interest in our city and they want to get to know more about it,” said Joni James, CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership, which along with the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability sponsored the delegation’s trip.

“We are happy to help them learn what a great place it would be to have a consulate.”

Of course, they were not in Tampa.  Why “of course”?  The business community of both cities have been pushing for consulates.  So what is the difference?

Perhaps most importantly, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has established a personal relationship with the Cuban government through two trips to the island nation.

It is well known that the Mayor of St. Pete sees an opportunity to promote his city, which is important to convincing Cuba to put a consulate there, and the Mayor of Tampa, well . . .

Buckhorn is on vacation this week, but his views on the consulate and Tampa’s opportunities — and responsibilities — amid an opening to Cuba are well-documented. In essence, Buckhorn is not inclined to embrace more economic engagement with Cuba until the Castro government in Havana institutes democratic reforms and guarantees that its citizens have broader rights to speak their minds and dissent. He doesn’t oppose other people doing it, but he’s not taking part himself.

This puts Buckhorn, a possible Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, out of step with much of the bay area’s business and political establishment, which is organizing itself to chase opportunities in Cuba.

It is, however, consistent with Bob Buckhorn being Bob Buckhorn. One of the mayor’s core political principles is that he does not turn his back on his friends. And over three decades in Tampa politics, Buckhorn has worked hard to build friendships with Cuban families in West Tampa who suffered when Fidel Castro came to power.

If you say so.  What does he say?

Buckhorn — To say that I’m not engaged isn’t an accurate statement. I’m not for it and I’m not against it. I’m not advocating in Washington D.C. against us getting it, nor am I advocating for us getting it.

I think that many of those are advocating for it have no appreciation for the experience of our Cuban citizens — zero — and look at it purely from economic terms as opposed to personal terms and the history of the Cuban people here in Tampa. And I’m just not going to be disrespectful of that. I am respectful of other people’s opinions. And as you have seen I have not gotten in the way of anybody else doing what they choose to. But just for me, personally, it’s just not an issue I’m going to weigh in on.

We are not sure he meant to say that in that way, especially the part about wanting a consulate shows no appreciation for the local Cuban-American community?  That is quite a broad statement and would necessitate him being against having a consulate, which is not exactly what he said. (And what does that say about the Mayor of St. Pete, the Congresswoman from Tampa, and much of the business community?)

We understand the concern over human rights and democracy.  We share those concerns, though past policy has not been exactly a resounding success in that area.  Moreover, it seems to us that his position is the worst of both worlds:  it neither promotes his city, area trade, and an opening of Cuba to American influence nor hurt the regime at all.  It just hurts Tampa.

Q — By not embracing more comprehensively the coming change.

Buckhorn — But I think you are seeing the port, the airport, obviously the aquarium’s down there doing some scientific (work). I think you are seeing some of the economic entities that would be on the front lines preparing for this. I don’t think having a consulate here makes one bit of difference in terms of our preparation for what eventually will happen. I mean, literally, we have consulates here anyway. Certainly it’s nice. But it mainly processes visas and travel requests. It’s not an economic engine unto itself. … It’s more symbolic than substantive.

Actually, a consulate makes a big difference for a place like Tampa that is trying to emerge from the shadows of other cities.  It creates a substantial connection to a Latin American country and makes us a main gateway to Cuba, which, right now, we are not from our Port (where basically nothing is happening regarding Cuba).  Nor does it not help the airport, which got the flight but has to fight through all the hubs.

Q — Like you say, the port, the airport, Florida Aquarium, the Chamber of Commerce — basically everybody in town’s working on this except for you.

Buckhorn — My input one way or the other is not going to have any difference on whether or not they relocate the consulate. I do think change is coming.

We never thought we would see the day that the Mayor tells us he is Mr. Irrelevant, but there you have it.

Still, one longtime activist said recently, Buckhorn’s focus on the past does not work in his city’s favor.

“You’re not going to undo what’s already been done,” Tampa attorney Dario Diaz said. “There’s going to be more trade. There’s going to be more freedom to travel. If we don’t participate in that, we will be harmed by the people that are willing to participate. For Tampa’s sake it’s better to reach out to make friends, make alliances because if not somebody else will.”

Exactly. And the efforts and comments of the Congresswoman from Tampa notwithstanding, the Mayor’s position does not help.

Transportation – Ugh, More PTC

As if this can never end, the PTC is still a ridesharing mess:

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission will discuss whether to enact a set of “emergency rules” regulating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft during its Rules and Policy Committee meeting set for Tuesday morning. The recommended temporary rules were suggested by an incoming TNC, DriveSociety.

Uber sent an email to PTC Executive Director Kyle Cockream and the group’s attorney Cynthia Oster opposing the measure. The letter alleges DriveSociety proposed the regulations “apparently with input from the taxicab industry and PTC staff.”

Setting aside that the Executive Director still has not made good on his promise to leave, it would not be the first time the PTC worked up regulations with input from the cab companies. (see electric shuttles downtown) In any event, the PTC decided not to adopt the rules.

But there is a bigger issue, as the Times contradictorily tells us:

The PTC, which regulates for-hire vehicles such as taxicabs and limousines in Hillsborough County, has ticketed Uber and Lyft drivers for not carrying commercial insurance and operating as a taxicab without a permit.

An appeals court is expected to rule in a case brought by Uber on whether the agency has the authority to regulate rideshare firms. 

In other words, the PTC says it regulates ridesharing companies, but it is not clear if it actually does (though, since the PTC should not exist anyway, it shouldn’t).  And, in any event, the PTC still raised the fines for ridesharing, to show their goodwill in negotiations with ridesharing companies and to show their goodwill towards consumers who really like ridesharing:

The new fines would raise the penalty for drivers from $700 to $900. The rideshare firm would also be fined $400 for allowing the operation of a vehicle without a permit, a $200 increase.

The fact is that the PTC has shown itself to be an unreformable dinosaur that is unable to deal with innovation and does not care about the consumers.  Every week brings just another reason to abolish it.

Rays – Pinellas Push

It appears there is a push underway regarding Pinellas locations for the new rays Stadium, at least at the Times.

With a list of 17 possible locations for a new baseball stadium, Pinellas County leaders can now deliver a pitch to keep the Tampa Bay Rays from fleeing to Hillsborough County.

Except many of those possible locations have poor access (one even has a different development proposal already). But 17 is a bit much:

On Monday, Pinellas County commissioners received information on seven St. Petersburg sites that were added to the list of 10 county sites released two weeks ago.

The seven St. Petersburg locations released Monday include Albert Whitted Airport, Al Lang Stadium, Bridgeway Acres Landfill and Carillon Town Center. The others are a former sod farm owned by Jabil Circuit, the Toytown property near Interstate 275 and Roosevelt Boulevard and Snug Harbor, 39 acres off Gandy Boulevard.

Downtown St. Pete really does not solve any of the Trop issues. Carillon Town Center has been considered.  Toytown is interesting but the same basically as Carillon.

Then there is Snug Harbor,  which the Times featured:

The Snug Harbor site on Gandy Boulevard could be just the latest fresh face in a parade of locations discussed and dismissed since 2008, but it has some advantages:

At 39 acres, it’s large enough for a stadium and all the extras the Rays envision. It’s owned by a local couple who wants to sell, which could simplify negotiations. The nearby roads are already slated for substantial improvements, easing access to the somewhat isolated property. It’s a natural stop for the proposed Tampa to St. Petersburg ferry, if that initiative ever materializes. It’s also in a county that has already reserved bed tax money for a new ballpark.

And, perhaps most importantly, the Rays are interested.

From the Times – click on picture for article

All that sounds interesting.  But there are a few issues.  First and foremost, there is only one real access road – Gandy.  That is not very conducive to big crowds or for people coming from much of the area.  Second, there is almost no likelihood of a real walkable, urban environment/business district around it (as opposed to some odd contrivance) – which was something the Rays wanted.

It is fine to do due diligence, but keep looking.

Gasparilla – Come Together

We have said for a while that the Gasparilla season is a bit long and uncoordinated and that is would be better if the time period for the events were condensed to give it greater effect.  Now there is a move to make at least parts of it more of one big event.

Starting in 2017, the Gasparilla International Film Festival and Gasparilla Music Festival will run consecutively, creating a 10-day-long arts event.

* * *

Gasparilla’s film festival is most affected by the collaboration, moving up its starting date nearly a month to March 2, while expanding from five days to eight, at Centro Ybor 20 in Ybor City. It’s followed by the music festival on March 11 and 12, on four stages at Curtis Hixon Park.

Officials for both festivals made clear this is a partnership between them, not a merger.

Which is really a step in the right direction.  There are a lot of parts to the Gasparilla season and they are best coordinated to maximize the brand and make it a real destination. They can stay technically different events but ideally they should be able to be packaged as one large, annual happening.

Hagan said at the commission meeting that Gasparilla is a strong brand, but “we’re not taking advantage of it from a marketing and tourism perspective.”

Combining the film and music festivals further positions Tampa as a cultural destination, where tourists can build vacations around events. Gasparilla International Film Festival president Rachel Feinman thinks Tampa is less crowded and more accessible to visitors than Austin and the like.

“For any people who have tried to travel to SXSW or any other international festivals, it can be very challenging,” Feinman said at the commission meeting. “There’s really an untapped opportunity for us to be seen as a cultural and arts destination.”

There is no question that making Gasparilla a week or two of events is better than having a few months of events.  We applaud the effort.

Downtown/Channel District – Wondering What You Call It, Cont.

Last week, we discussed the Times’ concern about what to call the Lightning owner’s project. (West Brandon is really growing on us).  This week, the Times’ resident curmudgeon had a column on the same topic and, actually came up with a name we really like:

In a nod to its nearby sometimes randy nightlife neighbor, Vinik might consider V-bor City.

While we doubt that will be the final name, it is definitely better than LoDo.

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the Country

— What Are We Missing?

A few months back there was some discussion about attempting to get GE to move their HQ to Tampa.  In the event, they moved to Boston, but it serves as a learning experience.  Well, GE recently released plans for their new facility in Boston.  Here is something about their new HQ in Boston which should really teach everyone interested in economic development in this area:

From Architects Newspaper – click on picture for article

According to the release, the headquarters will include 1.5 acres of public space including an expanded harborwalk along Fort Point Channel; a coffee shop and a restaurant; a “maker space” for startups and students; lab space that will house six to 12 early-stage life-science companies; and an “Innovation and exploration center highlighting the past, present, and future of GE.”

A GE spokeswoman said the sloped canopy over the new building will serve to generate solar power. The headquarters will only have 30 parking spaces as a means of encouraging employees to walk, bike, or take public transportation to the site, according to the news release.

Yes, 30 spaces for an 800 employee campus.  Of course, that is an extreme example but, as noted on URBN Tampa Bay, companies moving HQ’s to urban locations (or at least transit connected/oriented locations) is now a normal thing.  (See here and also here)   Local officials (and others) can continue to push things like TBX (how useful is that with 30 parking spaces?) and hide from the comprehensive lack of real transit in this area, but without it (and much better walkable areas and truly connective bike trails) we are always going to be hamstrung in economic development efforts.

— Startup Power

CNBC had an interesting item of the startup scene in Portland (OR).

Le also cites quality of life and cost of living for her start-up as reasons to stay. “I firmly believe we have been able to accomplish a lot more as a result of having a lower cost of living and lower cost of square feet.”

Those factors are drawing other new companies to settle down in Portland as well. In 2015, venture capital funding hit $283.4 million, the highest level seen in five years, according to Dow Jones Venture Source, proving investors won’t shy away from an idea outside of major start-up hubs on both coasts.

But it’s not just start-ups calling the Rose City home. Established businesses beyond Nike and Adidas have laid down roots in and around Portland, including Intel and Airbnb. Data from the Kauffman Foundation’s metro area rankings for 2015 placed Portland and its surrounding metro area at No. 5 for established small businesses, with 1,113 small companies for every 100,000 residents in the city.

Google has said it may bring Google Fiber services to Portland in the future. The superfast internet has spearheaded entrepreneurship in other locations around the country, with innovators flocking to make use of the connection. Beyond tech and athletics, Portland has also become a hotbed for food and retail establishments, helping to bring new residents into town. 

Anyone who has watched Portlandia knows that Portland has a reputation for being a bit … unique.  However, it also has a reputation for being pretty, walkable, and easy to get around with great transit.  Add in lower cost of living than big tech hubs and being not that far (at least by air) from San Francisco and Seattle, and that make sense.

We can’t move our geographical location (though flights to Seattle and San Francisco are good), but we can do other things.  Our cost of living is low, but we are not walkable or easy to get around.  Our natural environment is pretty, but much of our built environment is not.  You cannot reach your true potential if you always settle for cheap and quick.  Quality matters, whether you like it or not.

— How to Plan

The next item was brought to our attention by URBN Tampa Bay. Denver already has a robust transit system, but it is focused on a downtown hub.  There is a move to plan how to get around the rest of the area (they are so far ahead of us . . .).  They are setting up a transit task force:

Denver’s first transit plan got off the ground Tuesday with the first meeting of the “Denveright” transit task force, a group of about 30 residents, advocates, public officials, and policy experts who will play a key role in shaping the future of transit in the Mile High City.

First, notice how they have a committee made up of more than just government officials (see TED/PLC/Go Hillsborough). They are establishing actual goals, identifying key transit corridors, looking at funding, and, most importantly, “creat[ing] a plan that gets people excited.”  Obviously, you don’t get buy in if people are not excited (see go Hillsborough).

And it should be noted, it is not supposed to be a plan to bulldoze neighborhoods, it is to fit in the footprint of the city.  Amazing what can be done if people don’t give up before even starting.

— Suburbs Can Work With Cities

Frankly we never thought we would point to Detroit as an example of what we should be doing, but then there is this (again, thanks to URBN Tampa Bay):

There was a time when Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson could appeal to white racial anxiety and do lasting damage to the Detroit region. It almost happened again last week when Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel nearly scuttled a vote on a regional transit tax that would fund a significant expansion bus and rail service.

Over the course of 40 years, 23 attempts to create a unified regional transit system had failed. Why would this time be any different?

Well, it’s looking more and more like the politics of the Detroit region have changed. Reversing course, Patterson and Hackel have reportedly reached an agreement to put the transit expansion measure before voters in November.

(You can read more here)

Regional action?  How novel.  Now we are not sure about how good their plan is and we are not sure it will pass.  That is not the point.  The point is that they managed to work together for a regional plan, where we have a hard time getting a plan in one county.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 5, 2016 8:24 AM

    GE would have never selected Tampa, especially over Boston. The proximity to MIT alone and the opportunity to hire staff from a killer intern program is reason enough for them to select Boston. Putting that aside we are talking about a city where employers pay their staff to take the train versus driving to work. Akamai, Microsoft, and others provide a stipend to employees to ride the train whose system can take you virtually anywhere in the city. Boston is an innovation forward city, much more than San Francisco or San Jose and they encourage urban development. The city itself is far more inclusive when it comes to diversity issues as well.

    As for Portland, not unlike Atlanta and Detroit they are as we say ‘Killin it’ in the innovation space. Cost of living matters as does cost per SF. Property in Tampa is as expensive as downtown Atlanta, more than the innovation districts in Portland, Denver, and Detroit and that should give us pause. Intel chose Portland as home because Silicon Valley was too expensive and the location allowed them to split the difference between the valley and Seattle. Secondarily companies like Airbnb locate in places where the talent pool is growing thus completing the cycle from startup through acquisition.

    You say we can’t move our location, that’s true but we are so enamored with Silicon Valley when there is more innovation in Boston. There is plenty of VC money in Boston, NY, and DC too. We want to be cool versus innovative and there is a big difference. We focus on the B2C world when the money is in the B2B world. Build something of value that can scale and people want to invest.

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