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Roundup 10-20-2017

October 20, 2017


Transportation – More Studies

— Streetcar

– Selmon/Gandy Connector

Economic Development – Sales Pitches

— The Campaign

— The Movie

— Amazon

Channel District/Downtown – Tear It Down

Rays – Looking Around

Port – Looking at the Books

A Little Odd

Downtown – We Know It’s Historical

Airport – Brown Arrives

Yes, We Get the Super Bowl

South Tampa – Bayshore

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the State

List of the Week I

List of the Week II


Transportation – More Studies

— Streetcar

This week, the City released the latest of its streetcar study.  When last we left it, the study was considering seven alignments.  Now they are down to two, really 1A and 1B.  You can see the document here.   From

Those initial seven routes have now been whittled down to two “alignments.”

Alignment A: Runs north/south on Franklin Street to the downtown core, with a short one-way loop along Palm Avenue, North Highland Street and Henderson Avenue in Tampa Heights. This option would cost $94 million to build (in 2017 dollars) and would cost $3.6 million to maintain.

Alignment B: Runs north/south along Tampa Street and Florida Avenue through the downtown core to Palm Avenue in Tampa Heights. That alignment will cost $97 million to build (in 2017 dollars), costing $3.6 million to maintain.

Compared to the other five alignments, both choices rate highly due to lower capital and operating costs. However, Alignment A rates higher in several areas, as it requires a single CSX railroad crossing and has less impact on local roadways and adjacent land uses due to its path along Franklin Street instead of Tampa Street and Florida Avenue.

Alignment B rates higher in other areas as it would not require a crossing of the Esplanade on Franklin Street and has a larger service area due to its alignment along two parallel roadways.

Here is Alignment A:

From the City of Tampa – click on map for pdf

Here is Alignment B:

From the City of Tampa – click on map for pdf

Here is a comparison of demographics:

From the City of Tampa – click on chart for pdf

Setting aside the CSX issue (which should be dealt with comprehensively), it is hard to decide without having some things made clearer. While we do not think it is a huge difference between the two alignments, we like how B goes further north.  It also does not ruin some nice pedestrian elements on Franklin, especially the plaza near the Hilton. On the other hand, it is not clear how the streetcar would be treated on Tampa or Florida and how cooperative FDOT would be on those roads.  Nor is it clear how a streetcar would fit into other plans there are for those roads (narrowing and/or make them two-way has been floated for years).

We like how A enters the area north of the interstate but are not so fond of the little loop and not clear how it would be handled. Either alignment would, theoretically, connect to the theoretical transit stop in the middle of the interstate or a stop at the CSX tracks but details on that would be nice.  It is also unclear what would be done with Franklin if the streetcar ran up it: would it still have car traffic? What other changes would be made to it?

Acknowledging that we would really like that information, given what we know now, we favor a hybrid that is on Florida/Tampa in the heart of downtown and goes north on Franklin with a double track.   But that could change with details.

The report also says this:

4.3 Potential Future Extensions

The provision of enhanced transit service along Alignments A and B, or a combination thereof, will provide a strong foundation for future extensions of the system. Future extensions could provide east-west connectivity with links back to the existing alignment (as shown in Figure 7), or could provide connections to communities to the west or southwest across the Hillsborough River or to the north to Seminole Heights. Depending on the outcome of future feasibility assessments, detailed planning and evaluation of extensions beyond Alignments A and B could be undertaken.

(Pg 14 of the report)

Ease of expansion needs to be built into the plan, especially crossing the river and connecting North Hyde Park/West Tampa and points to the west.

In short, from what is known now, there is little to differentiate the two choices, and we would have to see more detail to really decide.  But what is more important than choosing between the two similar plans is that the rolling stock is updated and frequency and speed of increases.

So what next?  From the Business Journal:

The next phase of the study will evaluate what kind of vehicle technology to use to connect the existing route to the proposed extension. The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority could continue using the existing streetcar technology on a fixed guideway, which would require building additional streetcar infrastructure along the new route. The agency could also modernize the combined routes with a new mode of transportation. Those recommendations will come during the next phase of the InVision process, which the city expects to be complete next fall.

In other words, they could make it a bus or “automated bus” or they could use a modern streetcar that could extend beyond. (We think it should be modern streetcar/light rail.) It will be interesting to see what they propose.

– Selmon/Gandy Connector

There was also some news (sort of) regarding the Selmon/Gandy Connector:

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority on Tuesday released new renderings of two potential designs for its $230 million Selmon Extension project planned above Gandy Boulevard.

You can see them at the Business Journal article here.

And remember to vote on the decorations here.

Economic Development – Sales Pitches

— The Campaign

This area has seen no lack of economic development campaigns.  This week marked the rolling out of another one:

In an effort to attract more companies and entrepreneurs to Tampa Bay, leaders from the tourism and economic development spheres have launched a new campaign to increase business relocations and attract worker talent.

The “Make It Tampa Bay” campaign relies on Visit Tampa Bay’s award-winning “Florida Most” advertising concepts as well as its out-of-state marketing channels to push Tampa Bay as a coveted community for chief executives, business owners, millennials and other key groups to relocate. With the website, the campaign’s message has three sections: “Work Here,” “Live Here,” and “Build a Business.”

As always, we are all for trying to attract/retain talent and business to the area.  It has to be done.  What does this effort entail?

Visit Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s official tourism marketing arm, has joined with the county’s Board of County Commissioners, and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. to build a cross-discipline approach to economic growth that targets business leaders in New York, Philadelphia, Dallas and Chicago.

Or said another way:

The marketing plan is to piggyback a business and millennial recruitment message on top of well established tourism promotions in such cities as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas.

It is not clear if the campaign is limited to those cities or not.  Regardless, what is it?

The “Florida Most” ad operation has proved “hugely successful and the EDC said why don’t we all do one campaign,” said Patrick Harrison, Visit Tampa Bay’s chief marketing officer. The idea is to capitalize on the transition from tourism into relocating businesses into Hillsborough County.

The new campaign website features the stories of 13 local businesspeople and professionals who live, work and play here. Among them are Tim Moore, CEO of video production company Diamond View, and Julie Curry, the owner of Bake’N Babes, a local bakery that has just opened up in The Hall on Franklin. On the website, Curry says she wants to “grow with the city and introduce some new and interesting foods to the Tampa Bay market.”

Perhaps the poster child for relocation is Omar Soliman, co-founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk, a company that moved to Tampa Bay from Washington, D.C. Saying that Tampa Bay fueled the firm’s growth, Soliman noted on the Make It Tampa Bay website: “There is no way we would be able to do $75 million in revenue with more than 100 franchises nationwide if it weren’t for this great city.”

The website also focuses on several area industries, available jobs, events, and things to do. Additionally, special attention is given to Hillsborough County neighborhoods to give those thinking of relocating an idea of which ones would best suit their needs, personal preferences and budget.

The campaign uses photos showing people enjoying a beer outdoors on a sunny day with the tagline “328 Ways to Make Monday Funday.” The ad also comes with the line “Florida’s Most Work/Play Balance.” Another ad shows a man biking to his job with the tagline “Florida’s Most Sunny Careers.”  

And that’s all fine. Here is the website.

There are a few things of note.  First, there is a strange emphasis on lack of state income tax (a selling point, but clearly not the major point for the best and the brightest – and, stylistically, if you mention it too much it looks like you main selling point), and the neighborhood list is oddly selective (for instance, Lutz but no Carrollwood despite this.)  Nevertheless, we’re sure some people will see the website and be convinced. Whether those people are already predisposed to being moving here is another question.  As is whether it will have any effect on larger companies.  But, fine.  We will even tolerate some of the hype from the officials (as long as they don’t believe their own propaganda) – as we have said before, they are trying to sell something so it is expected.

However, in our experience, the really talented people who are either leaving here or considering where to go are looking for more than making Monday Funday.  They are looking for being stimulated intellectually as well as professionally (and their professions often involve interdisciplinary interests anyway), and they are looking for areas that are net exporters of ideas, art, and innovations.  (Low taxes are fine, but low investment and the consequences that often come from it often isn’t.)

— The Movie

And that brings us to something interesting that happened this week.  As some will know, there is a new movie called the Florida Project.

Central Florida’s latest portrayal on the big screen shows a darker slice of the tourist-centric region — children growing up living at old Kissimmee area hotels in the shadow of theme parks.

“The Florida Project,” named for Walt Disney’s vision to remake much of Central Florida, centers on a 6-year-old girl frolicking unsupervised around the grounds of the 1960s Magic Castle hotel where she and her rebellious mother eke out an existence.

Interestingly a number of people, including people who grew up here, living in metro areas that are the usual suspects, contacted us to tell us they saw the movie and wondered if we had.  We hadn’t.  So we checked Fandango to find out where it was showing locally.  Nothing, even though the movie was set an hour down the road.  It was showing in Austin.  It was going to start in Denver, Atlanta, Nashville and Orlando this weekend.  Nothing in Tampa (at least not on Fandango).  But you can see it in California.

Yes, it is a small thing, but it is indicative of a larger issue.  Leaders (or potential leaders) in their fields are usually looking for more than craft beer – which we like but, it should be said, is available in other cities.  And water is nice, but, as we have said, water is not exclusive to us.

We get that we are not a state capital with a history of investment in amenities and/or older large corporations and/or unique niches that give us a history of having amenities and talent (See usual suspects Atlanta, Phoenix, Denver, Raleigh, Austin, Columbus, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Salt Lake City) and we are not the HQ for Bank of America. But the fact remains that they are our competition. (And, while we really like what the Lightning owner – he seems to get it – does in the community and think Water Street and connected efforts holds some promise, Water Street is not built and occupied.  And there still is no real transit connection for it outside of downtown, even though it is at the end of peninsula with limited ingress and egress.)

As we said, there is nothing wrong with trying to sell yourself, as long as you keep everything in perspective (and don’t get too caught up in your own hype). But recycling old talking points in new media will only do so much. And every city is trying to build clusters and talent pools.

In other words, if you answer the question:

if a person can live anywhere (or almost anywhere) they want, why would they choose to live here as opposed to another area that already has so many amenities that we are still talking about?

with “we have no state income tax,” “we have beer” or “we can turn Monday into Funday,” maybe you should go back and reconsider.

What we need is to provide (and focus on creating and fostering) the amenities that people who can make the choice want to choose (which many of our competitors have or are much further along in getting) plus the possibility of significant career advancement.  Then our no income tax and water (and beer, of course) will really have an impact.  We are all for attracting and retaining the best talent and businesses, but you cannot do it on the cheap.

— Amazon

Which brings us to Amazon because, really, it is going to just keep coming up until they make a choice.  While we would love to see Amazon choose the Tampa Bay area, we are realistic. (We could always offer them free land and tons of money, plus the fact that, if they were here, they would probably be able to do anything they wanted because local officials are not likely to oppose them).

In any event, 83 degrees media has a piece about why Amazon should choose the Tampa Bay area.  We are not going to post the whole thing (you can read it here), but it was interesting in that it provided quotes from local officials and business organization heads that were traditional Tampa Bay area, with things like this:

Having Amazon in the Tampa Bay region would be the perfect addition to a region that is rewriting its economic DNA. Having recently been ranked the number one city in America where people are moving according to, our diverse background, matched with endless entertainment options, cultural venues and unique neighborhoods provide a perfect backdrop to attract the best and brightest talent from across the globe. We look forward to aggressively showcasing and highlighting this great region with our friends from across the bay and look forward to being a part of the selection process. — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn  


As a research university president, I care deeply about the economic opportunities and growth of the region. This is an enormous opportunity for Tampa Bay with 50,000 new jobs. This could lead to high-speed rail, which would propel economic development in this region to new heights. Attracting Amazon would be a major national and international coup that would bring recognition and even more vitality to the Tampa Bay region. I could not be more enthusiastic about this opportunity. — Judy Genshaft, University of South Florida

Which is fine, but those are more reasons why we want Amazon rather than they want us.  And, a little more to the point, this:

Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest and fastest-growing tech hub. Tampa Bay is the nation’s 27th largest and 2nd fastest-growing tech hub. Tampa Bay is home to one out of every 89 tech workers, a bigger claim than half the states in the nation. Tampa Bay is home to the most female tech talent in the state, with females representing a greater portion of our tech workforce than San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and numerous other tech hubs. Tampa Bay is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the one million plus students in higher education within a half-day drive radius. Tampa Bay is architecting, building and maintaining tech that powers over half a trillion in annual revenues and over a trillion in market capitalization. Tampa Bay has one of the most awarded and admired airports in the country, which is growing as we speak. Tampa Bay is the right choice for Amazon. — Daniel James Scott, Tampa Bay Technology Forum

Which is all good, but being the 27th biggest tech hub is not really being a tech hub at all.

There are a number of other quotes along the same lines.

The thing is, Amazon is already here.  They already know about our area.  Moreover, a major part of their business is data mining, and not just macro data mining.  They get into individual data mining.  In other words, in a lot of ways, they probably know us better than we know ourselves.  And that is true for every city that will apply.

Their decision most likely will not be based on sales slogans or the usual pitches that this area makes.  It will be based on hard facts, such things as incentives, transit, other transportation, real depth of talent pool (and remember every major city applying has a university, and probably more than one, nearby).  We have no real transit.  Does the airport have the necessary flights (if not, Amazon would probably generate them)? What are our incentives?  As for talent pool, there was this from a Times column on Amazon:

We think that in the southeast Atlanta probably has it (or can handle getting it), too, but the report is still telling, especially when our economic development officials are fond of touting our talent (and we have talent but not necessarily talented in the right way and/or the right amount), which goes to the first item in the section.  A Business Journal article this week told us:

A technology industry report card created by Tampa Bay Business Journal suggests that the local workforce may not be as strong as economic developers believe.

A panel of 15 tech industry leaders — ranging from entrepreneurs and funders to academics and incubator operators — graded the number of tech workers in the area, as well as the salaries paid to those workers, and the composite grades came out just slightly above average.

It rated the Tampa Bay area as B- in both tech talent pool and salaries. Here are some comments from the people involved (we had to re-type them, so if there is a typo, we apologize):

“The lack of tech talent in the Tampa Bay area is not unique to our region. Most urban areas outside Silicon Valley, Austin, and other known tech hubs are struggling to attract high-tech talent.” Tonya Elmore, president and CEO, Tampa Bay Innovation Center/TEC Garage

* * *

“What Tampa perceives as tech workers are really IT workers . . .We have many companies with large IT departments, which operate primarily in service provider companies. Their skills are dramatically different from tech workers who start and build companies.”  – Joy Randels, CEO, Citizinvestor

* * *

“Seems to be a lack of available talent and what is available is overpriced compared to alternatives. Sixty percent of our tech workforce work remotely from other states.” –David Schlaifer, president and CEO, DAS Health and assessURHealth

All things to keep in mind when thinking about our tech community and reports on STEM jobs.

For us, the bottom line on all this is not that we can’t win the Amazon sweepstakes, though it is unlikely.  The real lesson is that decades of complacency and underinvestment in the amenities (including education) and features that really draw/retain major business and talent have consequences. Maybe we will get Amazon, but regardless, we need to get moving. Doing what we have always done (including underinvestment, poor planning, exaggerating our successes and ignoring our deficiencies, being afraid of critical analysis especially in government, and patting ourselves on the back for essentially treading water relative to the competition) will just get the results we have always gotten.

As we constantly say, yes, we are better than we used to be, but so are all our competitors and many are moving faster. The question is not whether we are better as an area than we were 10 (or even 5) years ago, it is whether we are better than our competitors now. Amazon is just helping put it in sharp relief.

Channel District/Downtown – Tear It Down

Demolition started on the smaller, waterfront building of the Channelside complex this week.

Today, 17 years after it opened, one wing of Channelside Bay Plaza is being demolished to re-open that space, with a large chunk of the building expected to come down around mid-morning today.

Once Channelside’s southwest wing is gone, it will make way for part of Water Street Tampa. That’s the massive $3 billion redevelopment project being launched by Strategic Property Partners, a joint venture between Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates’ private capital fund, Cascade Investment.

In the near term, the space created by the demolition could become a waterfront park of a little less than an acre. Overlooking the Ybor Turning Basin, it’s expected to feature a small stage, an “outdoor lounge” seating area and spaces for pop-up bars and restaurants.

In the long run, Strategic Property Partners is looking at redeveloping the Channelside Bay Plaza site completely.

This is the park that eventually is supposed to be built on the parking lot that is west of the Channelside complex:


From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

This is what the land where the building being demolished might become:

From the Business Journal – click on picture for article

We are fine with the demolition and with the rebuild. Something has to be done to open and connect the Channelside complex (or its replacement) to the water.  From the beginning, it has been designed improperly. The changes will just enhance that location.

Rays – Looking Around

There was an interesting article in the Times regarding the Rays stadium search.

It is proving harder than expected to put together the land needed for a Tampa Bay Rays ballpark near downtown Tampa, and now local officials are exploring another option in the West Shore area.

* * *

Some landowners in the Channel District-Ybor City region — for months the focal point of the Tampa ballpark site search — are so far unmoved by offers from Hillsborough County to acquire their property. The thorny negotiations put in peril two coveted locations in that area, Hagan said, though he declined to identify the exact location of those sites.

The lack of progress has forced the county to look at another undisclosed site in West Shore, he said, the coastal community on Tampa’s west side.

That area was previously considered and a consultant study once noted its appeal. St. Petersburg fans wouldn’t have to drive as far as they would to a downtown Tampa ballpark, and it is close to the kind of corporate clients and support the Rays desperately crave.

“The demographics in the West Shore area are better than in downtown or Channelside or Ybor,” Hagan said.

But broadening the hunt at this point — 22 months after St. Petersburg allowed the Rays to search for a new home away from Tropicana Field — can only be seen as a step backward for an effort many hoped would have been wrapped up by now.

So what is the problem? Maybe this:

The county wants landowners to approve an option agreement for their parcels that would be executed in the event the Rays decide to leave St. Petersburg.

Or maybe something else.  There are other ways to get the land, but they are more permanent than just having an option.

It is not clear to us whether the search in Westshore is serious or a negotiating maneuver. (We are not really high on a Westshore location.) Regardless, it is just another aspect of a long, messy process.

But even if all the pieces come together, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan said he is less confident than ever that the county and Rays ownership can come to an agreement on how to pay for a ballpark that would lure the team from St. Petersburg.

“There’s no question this has been an extremely challenging and frustrating process that in my opinion shouldn’t be this difficult of a task,” Hagan, the county commission’s point man on the negotiations, told the Tampa Bay Times.

Maybe it shouldn’t be so hard, but in this area, it is not surprising that it is.

Port – Looking at the Books

A few months ago, there was a kerfuffle at the Port due to some, shall we say, interesting spending by staff.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has formally asked Port Tampa Bay to provide a voluminous amount of information about its expense and travel activity dating back several years.

* * *

Corcoran sent a Sept. 19 letter to Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson asking for a slew of documents and communications “in connection with recent reports concerning the Port Authority’s spending on entertainment, meals and other discretionary spending.”

In response to the House Speaker’s request, Anderson sent an Oct. 10 letter to Corcoran in which he said the port is “working diligently to assemble this information and will provide it to you as soon as we have collected and processed each item requested.” As part of the letter, Anderson also enclosed the port’s new expense policies. 

When the audit of the airport was proposed, we said that was fine as long as other such entities got audited.  And we have no problem with checking on the spending at the Port, which seemed odd.  Of course, we also expect all the other airports and ports in the state to get similar scrutiny.

A Little Odd

There was an interesting article in the Times this week about the Hillsborough and Pinellas School Boards.

Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins did make an appearance at the Pinellas County School Board workshop Tuesday in a first public move to establish an official partnerships between the two districts.

Together, the districts will share ideas and practices on three areas: early childhood, college and career connections and high school graduation rates. They’ll discuss how to deepen professional relations and create support systems among administrators.

* * *

Personnel from both districts will attend meetings, which will be sponsored by the United Way Suncoast and facilitated by Melissa Erickson, the executive director of the Alliance for Public Schools. The directors of high school education, career and technical education and early learning from both districts have already had meetings.

We have no problem with sharing.  Sharing ideas and insights is good.  But here is the odd thing:

“The business community deserves that we work and sit together for the betterment of the region,” said Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego.

We get that having an educated work force is good for business, but shouldn’t the primary concern be that the kids deserve a good education?

Downtown – We Know It’s Historical

There was news about Oaklawn Cemetery:

Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa’s first public graveyard, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Park Service listed Oaklawn and the neighboring St. Louis Cemetery, just north of downtown Tampa, on Sept. 25.

* * *

When Oaklawn was founded in 1850, Tampa had not yet been incorporated as a city. Its population was about 500.

But from the beginning, Oaklawn was designated as a public burial ground for “White and Slave, Rich and Poor.” Its 3 acres at 606 E Harrison St. are home to more than 1,500 graves, including those of 13 mayors, one governor, two Florida Supreme Court justices, as well as slaves, veterans of seven wars, victims of yellow fever epidemics and a couple of Cuban pirates.

* * *

Oaklawn also contains two mass graves — one for 102 soldiers and early settlers at Fort Brooke, which was abandoned before Oaklawn was dedicated, and another for at least 88 victims of five outbreaks of yellow fever between 1853 and 1887.

Historians count Oaklawn among the few U.S. cemeteries where slaves and slave owners can be found in the same plots. One of its best-known markers is for former Tampa city clerk William Ashley, who was white, and Nancy Ashley, an African-American slave.

It should be listed.  It is historical. And what is even better is that if FDOT chooses to do the full rebuild the interchange we discussed last week (see “Transportation – Latest and Greatest”), the north end of the cemetery will be right next to an elevated highway.  Nothing says respect for history more than that.

Airport – Brown Arrives

UPS began its Tampa International operations this week.

UPS recently left its operations at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport for Tampa International because the area inside the TIA cargo building is about six times larger than the space at PIE, allowing UPS to move its package sorting indoors. UPS was using at outdoor mobile distribution center at PIE.

“The number of flights is the same, four in, four out, for a total of eight each weekday, so no change in operations in metro Tampa, just a different airport,” said Jim Mayer, Public Relations Manager for UPS Airlines. He added that the aircraft for the four flights are two narrow-body 757s and two wide-body Airbus A300s. They have a total payload capacity of 430,000 pounds, Mayer said.

From Tampa International Airport – click on picture for Facebook page

Good deal.

Yes, We Get the Super Bowl

The NFL has finally confirmed the next Super Bowl in Tampa:

NFL owners granted final approval today for Tampa Bay to host Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium after determining all the league’s requirements had been met.

The game was awarded to Tampa Bay in May by a vote of the owners pending specifications being submitted and met. The Super Bowl advisory committee reviewed the bid and agreed their demands had been satisfied Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings in New York.

Well done by the committee and good for us.

South Tampa – Bayshore

Changes are likely coming to Bayshore:

Tampa City Council is expected to approve $1.7 million in enhancements to Bayshore Boulevard during a meeting Thursday.

Part of the plan with the Florida Department of Transportation includes lowering the speed limit from 40 to 35 miles per hour. Proposed improvements would extend the southbound bike lanes on Bayshore Boulevard between Gandy Boulevard and South Howard Avenue. The money would also fund new sidewalks and improved pedestrian ramps to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The project would also improve drainage at Wallcraft Avenue and reset existing granite curbs to improve safety and the overall flow of traffic. 

Setting aside that reducing the speed limit will not improve the flow of traffic, our bigger concern, like URBN Tampa Bay, is that the bike lanes on Bayshore are not protected lanes, even though in most places there is ample space in the overall Bayshore corridor for protected lanes (though, admittedly, they are not necessarily scenic). Then again,

The city proposed major changes to parts of Bayshore Boulevard in February to increase cyclist and pedestrian safety. Among the other proposals were plans to widen lanes and add reflective, flashing beacons at three crossings south of Howard Avenue to Platt Street. 

Those crosswalks are not scenic either.

Regardless, if you are going to do it, do it right. Get protected bike lanes.

Meanwhile, In the Rest of the State

There was Brightline news this week:

The developer and operator of the $3.5 billion Brightline intercity train is starting work on its Orlando segment, which may mean it will be completed in the next couple of years.

Coral Gables-based All Aboard Florida on Oct. 11 applied for permit that would allow work to begin on Phase 2 of the Miami-to-Orlando passenger train. Construction already is under way on the Miami-to-West Palm Beach portion of the train system.

The nearly $2 billion second phase of the project — which is expected to create 6,600 metro Orlando jobs and offer a boost to our local tourism market — includes an extension of the rail system from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport’s $682 million Intermodal Terminal Facility.

In Phase 2, the train will run along a converted freight rail line — owned by All Aboard’s former sister company Florida East Coast Railroad — from West Palm Beach to Cocoa, where new tracks will be built parallel to the State Road 528 corridor.

Just thought you should know.

List of the Week I

Our first list this week is the Innovation That Matters report.

The report, released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Free Enterprise, C_TEC and 1776, focuses on next-wave startups, which are technology-driven companies that are developing innovative solutions to complex challenges in different industries.


The Innovation That Matters study examines the health of the startup communities in 25 American cities and assesses their readiness to capitalize on the shift to an increasingly digital economy, with a unique focus on what we refer to as “next-wave startups.” 

Page 5 of the pdf (2 of the report).

Coming in first was Boston, followed by the San Francisco Bay area, Philadelphia, San Diego, Austin, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, New York, Portland, Denver, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham, Chicago, LA, Nashville, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Houston, Minneapolis, Washington (DC), Kansas City, and Phoenix.  The two “rising stars” were Tampa and Columbus (OH).

At least they are thinking of us. As the report says:

Additionally, Innovation That Matters  examined  Tampa  and  Columbus,  as  we  have  seen  an  overall  increase in startup activity in those cities. They were not included in the top 25 ranking, however, because they are new to the city list this year.

You can see the Tampa slide on page 67 of the pdf (64 of the report).

Tampa came in 15th place among the 27 cities for talent, but there’s room to improve on other factors measured in the report.

Talent is described on page 41 of the pdf (page 38 of the report) as:


Is the necessary workforce available?

Domestic and international population inflows

Percentage of educated millennials and percentage year-over-year change in educated millennials

We are unclear which aspect boosted our ranking, but two of the three elements involve relative growth rather than absolute access to talent.

In any event, even being considered shows some progress.

List of the Week II

Our second list of the week is the The Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship: Metropolitan Area and City Trends.  As described by the Business Journal:

The Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship is a composite measure of entrepreneurial business growth in the United States that seeks to capture growth entrepreneurship in all industries.

The report ranks the 40 largest metro areas in the country, relying on data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Here is the full list: Washington (DC), Austin, Columbus, Nashville, Atlanta, San Jose, San Francisco-Oakland, Boston , Minneapolis-St. Paul, Indianapolis, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Diego, Denver, San Antonio, Phoenix, Charlotte, Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, Seattle, Portland (OR), Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Tampa Bay area, Chicago, Kansas City, Orlando, Sacramento, Los Angeles, New York, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Detroit, Riverside-San Bernardino, Providence, and Jacksonville.

We are 26th.(dropping two place from last year).  Given the two lists this week, that seems to be our spot.

One Comment leave one →
  1. B. Wills permalink
    October 20, 2017 10:09 AM

    Regarding streetcar expansion, this is throwing good money after bad. The streetcar is too slow, too infrequent, and presents a hazard to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. It should be replaced with a modern, elevated circulator, which would solve all of the above issues, plus eliminate the CSX extortion issue.

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