Living in the land of 9,000 neighborhoods…..committed to growth and inclusion.
By: Monnie Wertz, The University of Tampa
On January 9th, the LT Class of 2019 had the opportunity to learn more about the governing and economic development aims of the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County. The two reoccurring themes of our day were growth and inclusion.
The growth of Tampa and surrounding Hillsborough County is evident. Hearing from many city experts, it became evident how intentional most of that growth has been. The neighborhood liaisons from both City of Tampa and Hillsborough outlined the expansion of both areas. Lunch overlooking the dynamic Riverwalk highlighted the newly designed downtown area. The intentionality of the plans facilitated by the Tampa Housing Authority, the Chamber, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, and the mayor reflect progressive but realistic goals. The afternoon outlined specific plans for additional downtown development as well as economic expansion.
In presentation after presentation, city and county leaders highlighted the deliberate inclusion of all people in the growth and development of the region. Governmental leaders described reforms designed to remove impediments for people in poverty and facilitate increased opportunities for success. Housing issues were examined holistically to remove outdated complexes separated by income to facilitate more integrated models. Economic growth is targeting diverse firms and clients to provide an area that reflects Tampa’s varied population and encourages further collaboration. Construction developers highlighted their commitment to diversity and inclusion at every step of their processes. The mayor punctuated this theme in his lunchtime comments when he declared that Tampa welcomes all people and recognizes their accomplishments and value.
- City of Tampa is governed by a “strong mayor” model.
- Hillsborough County is mostly unincorporated with the exception of the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace.
- Hillsborough is governed by County Commissioners with a County Manager hired by the Commissioners.
- The State’s Attorney, 13th Circuit (Hillsborough County), is committed to reforming the criminal justice system in this area by balancing retribution, recidivism, rehabilitation, and restitution.
- Tampa Housing Authority is removing outdated “projects” models of public housing communities and replacing them with mixed income facilities, such as the newly constructed Encore complex and the West River area.
- There is a significant need for public housing communities in the Tampa area as 22,000 families are currently on the waiting list for assistance.
- Defense and security, life science and health care, IT, manufacturing and logistics, and financial and professional services are the five main industry sectors for the Tampa Hillsborough area.
- City of Tampa will be electing a new mayor and four new City Council members in March.
- Transportation and linking all “economic engines” such as Busch Gardens, USF, and the Westshore business district with downtown into a cohesive unit are the next largest priorities identified by the outgoing mayor.
- The Water Street Tampa project, under the direction of Strategic Property Partners (SPP), will add significantly more residential units, hotel space, and office/retail units to the downtown area.
- Intentional commitment to bringing and supporting new talent in the Tampa Hillsborough area through higher education as well as organizations like Embarc Collective and the Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator .
- The Chamber’s legislative agenda priorities include workforce development and education, health care, transportation, and military and defense.
Special thank you to our day sponsor – Christina Ciereck and the Florida Department of Health – Hillsborough County.