Policy & Transportation Digest

Senator Latvala urges FDOT not to put toll lanes on Howard Frankland Bridge
Senator Jack Latvala is the latest elected official to ask the Florida Department of Transportation not to include planned toll lanes on the Howard Frankland Bridge.  He expressed the concern that the toll lane would take away an existing travel lane, which might lead to more traffic on an already congested roadway.

More TBX thoughts:
Are we acting like a
Howard Frankland lane debate continues.

New State Laws go into Effect this weekend
On Saturday,
26 new state laws go into effect in Florida.  The new laws range from stronger penalties for gas station skimmers to new human trafficking regulations.  Most of the new state laws went into effect on July 1, but some are set to begin on October 1.

A New Hotel Could lead to Trouble for MacDill Air Force Base
With the approval by the Florida Cabinet last week, land near the base could be used to build a hotel which may not sit well with the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

Have Uber and the PTC come to an agreement?
On Thursday, PTC Chairman,
Victor Crist announced that he and Uber had come to an agreement that will allow the ridesharing company to operate legally in Hillsborough County. The full PTC will have to vote on the agreement and rules at the October 13 meeting.

LT 2017: Community Outreach Day

chiaramonte-brendenBy Brenden Chiaramonte, Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office

It was a typical September morning in Tampa Bay. The sun had not yet crested over the horizon, it was 81 degrees out, but with the humidity it felt more like a sauna. Members of Leadership Tampa’s class of 2017 – undeniably the Best Class Ever – were coming together for the first of many adventures in our community. Fresh from the opening retreat, and a moving experience with Dr. Rick Weinberg, the class was ready for whatever it was that would await us throughout the day. Dr. Weinberg showed us the importance of considering the circumstances of one’s life and how it can and will impact the outcome.

co-pic-1If you’re in Leadership Tampa, it’s likely you have experience working with non-profits organizations that strive to make a difference for some of our most vulnerable residents. Community Outreach Day is a call to action. It is about finding your passion and working hard to make a difference for those struggling with circumstances that have impacted their lives.

co-pic-2We gathered the class at the Children’s Board in Ybor City for opening remarks. The class knew they would likely be divided up and scattered throughout the area to engage with some of the non-profits. We had no idea what organizations we would be visiting or who would be on our team. Amanda Uliano and Axah McCalla worked with Lance Lansrud to plan out our day. The Tampa Bay Rays were the sponsor and Josh Bullock, LT ’12, had the opportunity to “tell the story of the team” and their focus on the community. Josh talked about the Rays’ mission to energize the community through Rays’ baseball. Every employee of the Rays’ organization is given one paid day off each month to volunteer in the community. That is the kind of culture they have worked hard to build – they’ve empowered their employees to go out and make a difference and to be a positive influence. Through programs like Reading with the Rays’, partnerships with YMCA’s teaching children how to swim, and providing over 10,000 hats and jerseys to Little League Baseball organizations, the Rays’ have made a lasting contribution to our community.

co-pic-3At this point in the morning it was time to head out on the smaller group adventures. My group was the first one called and we quickly grabbed our packet and were out the door. We went straight for the MacDonald Training Center (MTC) on Cypress Blvd. The organization focuses on empowering people with disabilities to lead the lives they choose. They accomplish this through a series of services including job and technical skill training, life skills, community skills, and transportation services.  While waiting to meet with our tour guide, we had time to visit their onsite fine art gallery with works produced by members of the MTC family. All of the artwork is available for purchase at the center. The skill level demonstrated by these artists is on par with works you will find in any fine art gallery across the country. Our team would highly recommend you stop by and find a new piece for your home or office.


Did you know that every Sunpass sold in the state of Florida is packaged at MTC? On our tour we were able to see first-hand the packaging process, along with their electronics recycling business, and the space they have set aside to label all the garments sold by Cigar City Brewing. This facility provides the developmentally disabled opportunities that they would never have on their own. It is truly inspiring to have spent the morning with their staff. Their passion, respect, and dedication to their clients was obvious in every aspect of the business. Before we departed from MTC, we were part of a mock job interview process for the MTC clients. The mock interviews are used as part of the advanced job skills training the clients go through to prepare them for a real interview with a potential employer.

co-pic-7J. Clifford MacDonald’s commitment to developmentally disabled citizens is alive and well over 60 years after he founded the organization. One would be remiss to discuss Mr. MacDonald’s contributions to the community without mentioning that he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by John F. Kennedy in 1963. Sadly, both President Kennedy and J. Clifford MacDonald passed away before the award ceremony but Mr. MacDonald’s wife was there to accept the award from President Johnson during a ceremony late in 1963.

Upon leaving MTC, our orders directed us to head over to Metropolitan Ministries for a panel discussion, and lunch feast of Inside the Box Cafe. If you have yet to eat at Inside the Box, stop reading this article and go straight to one of the two locations in Tampa. There’s one on Westshore Blvd., and the other is located in Downtown Tampa. Not only do they serve excellent food, they are a social enterprise (Google it) that helps Metropolitan Ministries fund their operations. The cost of your meal goes “directly back to feeding a hungry and hurting Tampa Bay Neighbor.” Metropolitan Ministries was awarded an Innovative Business Plan Grant in 2010 for $25,000 to start Inside the Box Cafe. It has more than paid for itself over the years.

After lunch Jane Castor (LT’00) moderated a panel discussion that included Metropolitan Ministries President & CEO Tim Marks, Non-Profit Leadership Center CEO Emily Benham; Tampa Police Captain Yvette Flynn, and Children’s Board of Hillsborough County Director of Operations Buddy Davis. They shared some great lessons on how to truly engage with the needs in our community. We have to be champions for a cause. One of the panelists made this bold statement: “Don’t just buy a $50 ticket to an event, show up and have a few cocktails, and feel good about yourself. Do something more.” Events are great but look to other ways to be involved with the goal of leaving a lasting impact.

Speaking of deepening roots and relationships, Captain Yvette Flynn spoke of TPD’s efforts to reduce and solve crimes in unique ways – to engage the community to bring about real change. The RICH House in Sulphur Springs, is one of the ways TPD has collaborated with the community to enhance the lives in one of our most financially disadvantaged areas. Members of the LT ’17 Class visited the RICH House during the morning portion of the day to see first-hand the impact this organization has on the community. The house is administered by TPD and serves as a resource for children and their families in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood.

If you aren’t familiar with the role the Children’s Board plays in the community, it’s time for a quick lesson. A portion of ad-valorem (of value) property taxes are collected to fund the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County. In turn, they take that money and invest in programs to promote the well-being of children and families in our community. They provide funds to organizations such as Alpha House of Tampa, Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay, Inc., YMCA, and The Spring of Tampa Bay just to name a few. Not all of these organizations receive the same funding amount. Funds are directed to specific programs within these organizations to benefit the children and their families.

After lunch, the class was again divided up into smaller groups for an afternoon adventure. My team was chosen to visit The Spring of Tampa Bay. The other groups would head out to learn about Drug Treatment, Food Deserts, Human Trafficking, Transgender Issues, and Foreign Refugees coming to America.

If you’ve ever been to The Spring of Tampa Bay you already know why they are very secretive about their location. In addition to the confidentiality agreement, location services had to be disabled on our phones and electronic devices. It became clear, after spending a few hours with CEO Mindy Murphy, that the security measures were more than necessary to protect the survivors – a term for the victims of abuse – that were seeking assistance at The Spring. They have a 128 bed emergency facility, 46 transitional housing options, along with an outreach location that serves survivors without them living onsite. With a Kindergarten through 5th grade accredited school onsite, the Spring is truly a safe haven for a family disrupted by abuse.

The debrief was held back at the Children’s Board in Ybor City. This was going to be a time for each team to share their experiences from the afternoon’s activities. Some of the discussions were more lively and passionate than others, but the take away is that everyone left the room with a better understanding of some of the real issues being tackled on a daily basis in our community. Though many of us are very involved in the community, we all left Community Outreach Day passionate about some aspect of the day. The chatter at our “debrief after the debrief” – you know what I mean – was lively to say the least.


This article was written solely from one person’s perspective of the day. It would have been great to bring all the non-profit stories to the reader but logistically it wasn’t possible. If you run into an LT ’17 class member, ask them about their experiences during Community Outreach Day. One thing is for sure, they’ll have a great story to tell you!

Member News 9/22/16 – 9/29/16

Member News

  • Scott Jacobsen Appointed New CEO of NorthStar Bank
  • Meals On Wheels of Tampa Welcomes Newest Board Member
  • Hill Ward Henderson Shareholder Elected To Board Of Directors For The Association Of Corporate Growth
  • Port Tampa Bay Board Lowers Millage Rate, Ups Tax Payer Value, for FY 2016-17 Budget
  • B2 Communications‘ New Website Reflects Trends in Digital Communication
  • Coldwell Banker Relocates Tampa Sales Office to Westshore 500
  • FDOT Announces Partnership with Florida Polytechnic University to Develop SunTrax Test Facility
  • Toby Keith to Headline Valspar Live! On Saturday, March 11
  • VHB Opens Tampa Location to Expand Engineering, Environmental and Planning Services on Florida’s Gulf Coast

Member Events

Member New Hires & Promotions

Member Accolades

If you would like to submit something for the Member News section of eView, please send the information, including a link, to news@tampachamber.com.

Policy and Transportation Digest

Port Tampa Bay may be the ideal port for trade with Cuba
Because of the regions rich history with Cuba and the easy access to central Florida, Port Tampa Bay may be the perfect port to engage in business with Cuba.  Currently ships traveling between the US and Cuba are not permitted to dock for a 180 days, but a bill in the US Senate may change this.

Jeff Vinik’ s Strategic Property Partners release a look into downtown development
During the Port Tampa Bay board meeting this week, SPP unveiled an updated phase one of the project.  The updates will include a 150-room boutique hotel tower with 30 condominium units and a 30,000-square-foot grocery store.

Governor and Cabinet move to purchase land near MacDill Airforce Base
In a move to try and prevent encroachment on the land next the Airforce base, Governor Scott and the Cabinet agreed to purchase land just outside the base.  However, there is concern that this may not be enough.  There is still privately owned land next to the base that could be sold to build a hotel, which is concerning for base leadership.

Moffitt Tops the Nation in Cancer Research
Once again,  Moffitt Cancer Center leads the nation in ranking as the top Cancer research center in the nation.

Street Car begins morning service next week
Beginning on Monday, the Streetcar will begin extended hours Monday through Thursday for a 6-month trial period.

Tampa City Council Approves 2017 Budget
The Tampa City Council approved the City’s $906-million-dollar budget this week. The budget includes a 5% property tax increase.

Another case for Autonomous Cars
The Rocky Mountain Institute issued the latest report on the future of transportation in the US.

Cars with Drivers banned on Highways?
As the popularity of driverless cars grows so does other ideas such as designating certain portions of highways for cars without human drivers.


Mayor Buckhorn Signs Sister Cities Agreement with the City of Lanzhou, China

Tampa, Fla. (September 22, 2016) – On Sunday,  September 18th Mayor Buckhorn joined Interim Mayor of Lanzhou, China,  Guangping Duan, and signed a historic Sister Cities agreement to foster culture, commerce and investment from the City of Tampa and the City of Lanzhou.

“This agreement strengthens Tampa’s competitiveness as an emerging player on the global stage,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Not only does this partnership help increase the potential for economic and cultural exchanges and foster collaborative innovation, it bolsters Morsani College of Medicine and USF’s relationship with the top notch institutions in Lanzhou.

“I look forward to seeing the fruits of this relationship in the coming years.”

This agreement furthers the exchange of medical knowledge between USF and Health and Family Planning Commission of Gansu Province and serves as the culmination of an eight-year relationship between the two institutions by solidifying the understanding and relationship between the two cities.

Lanzhou is our 11th sister city and the first in China.


In the photo from left to right: Deborah Wilkinson, Executive Director of Tampa Bay Trade & Protocol Council Linman Li, Director of Asia Programs, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida Lynette Menezes, Assistant Vice President of International Affairs, USF Health & Assistant Dean for USF Medicine International at USF Morsani College of Medicine, Alfred Goldberg, President & Founder, Absolute Mobile Solutions, John Sinnott, Chairman for the Department of Internal Medicine, Morsani College of Medicine, Deputy director, Health and Family Planning Commission of Gansu Province. Yongning Yue, Deputy Secretary General, city of Lanzhou.  Zhaocheng Huo, director, foreign affairs office, city of Lanzhou. Yujian Huo, deputy director, foreign affairs office, city of Lanzhou

2016 Benchmarking Debrief: Take-Aways

chamber-logo                     td_bank_logo

Downtown Redevelopment

Takeaway points: The key to real change is an investment and commitment by everyone – the community as a whole, the government, and business. The turning point for Minneapolis was having a large company commit to building their headquarters downtown – they invested in the area, and everything else followed. Government also needs to play a part – they need to invest in infrastructure and other “connective tissue” that will support the investments made by corporations and individuals. The architecture needs to be stunning and unforgettable – and we do not need to settle for anything less.

Action items: We need to focus on people rather than things – recognizing that if we invest in the community, these “things” will come. Continue to communicate to our elected officials our desires – we deserve a dynamic, diverse and architecturally incredible business core, and it is attainable. Incentives do play a role in the feasibility of such a project. We need to encourage larger businesses to invest and build in areas that may not quite “be there” yet – knowing that it will follow once those first few steps are taken.

Regionalism and Collaboration

Takeaway points: It’s refreshing to hear that we are not the only ones that struggle with a collaborative and unified front as a region – however, it is possible to get there. The Minneapolis and Saint Paul regions and Chambers have very different focuses and defined roles (tourism vs. advocacy) – and they are complimentary rather than opposing. They embrace a “big brother / little brother” relationship, and are cooperative rather than defensive. They are the first to admit that they are absolutely competitive and will fight to be at the starting line – but once one or the other has “won,” the competition dissolves immediately and collaboration kicks in fully, as they throw their full support behind each other and the region as a whole.

Action items: Take steps to literally and metaphorically bridge the gap between our two regions – continue to open the lines of conversation, work on collaborative events, and redefine our areas of focus. Develop and nurture personal relationships with leadership on both sides of the bay. Understand that competition is acceptable and productive while fighting for an asset – but once it has been allocated, that needs to disappear completely.  Encourage business leaders to get involved in elected office as those elected with business experience has driven success in Minneapolis.  Lead by example.


Takeaway points: We need it! Their system was not perfect at first – they had to build it up to meet everyone’s needs over time. They were able to secure money for “urban development” rather than transit specifically. They invested in a robust pedestrian network before other modes of transit – recognizing that creating a safe and strong pedestrian system allows transit to grow and connect. They had a long-term vision for their transit system, and recognized that it would not happen overnight, and there would be many failures along the way. Transit means different things to different people – it is about community not just a commute.  It is important to have a variety of modes available to meet all needs.

Action items: Continue to explore how it would be possible to fund and pass multi-modal transit options here in Tampa. Messaging that it will not be perfect from the start – but it has to start somewhere. Creating the rail system first and then integrating it into the surrounding communities is an option.   Message that it is about economic development not just transportation.  Set the transportation vision for our community.

Workforce: Diversity & Inclusion / Young Professionals

Takeaway points: Diversity & Inclusion efforts can be applied right now in each of our workplaces. It is important to focus on developing and welcoming not only a diverse workforce, but diverse leadership. Building a “network of networks” in our community to help connect those from different backgrounds and build a sense of belonging is crucial to the retention of talented workers. In order to attract and retain young professionals both nationally and at the local Universities, it’s crucial to connect the academic and professional networks.

Action items: Implement initiatives identified through the Chamber’s Minority Caucus and Vision Plan to help us create this network of networks. Shift our mindsets during the hiring process from looking for a good cultural fit to looking for a good cultural engagement – who will push our organizations outside of the comfort zone into the next level. Utilize Education Connection and other existing programs to connect our academic institutions with our businesses to keep our young talent in the area. Transit is also key – we have to physically connect campuses with the business core and the residential areas.

Downtown Stadiums

Takeaway points: It is possible to create a stadium in very tight spaces (i.e. a 13-acre stadium built on 8 acres of land). Integrated transit is the key to making this a possibility. Downtown stadiums have to be used for more than just professional sports teams – they are available 24/7 for community use and other events to make them a viable investment. They are the result of a public/private partnership and everyone needs to be all in – ownership, community, and elected officials.

Action items: Communicate to elected officials our needs and desires – downtown ballparks are the starting point, not the end point. They can be the catalyst for change in an area, and bring the community into the stadium via retail, public space, etc.







Member News 9/15/16 – 9/22/16

Member News

Member Events

Member New Hires & Promotions

Member Accolades

If you would like to submit something for the Member News section of eView, please send the information, including a link, to news@tampachamber.com.