Recap: “Tomorrow’s Tampa: An Idea Summit”


Justin Laden, Public Policy / Voice Committee Member

Young professionals want more out of the Tampa Bay area – more options and more influence. This was the unanimous message that Emerge Tampa Bay members and other young Bay area professionals endorsed at Tomorrow’s Tampa: An Idea Summit, hosted at the newly-renovated District 3 in downtown Tampa on October 2, 2014.

An enthusiastic Mayor Bob Buckhorn kicked off the summit, and encouraged the educated and thoughtful crowd, packed with Tampa’s next leaders, to stay together and to focus on an achievable goal: producing positive change in our community.

Architect Mickey Jacob, the night’s keynote speaker, followed the mayor’s remarks with an earnest discussion of his transformation from young(er) professional to respected leader in the community. He detailed how Emerge members can best prepare to lead, shared his wisdom on forging relationships across town, and looked to other cities for inspiration.

After the keynote, attendees transitioned to heart of the event, the idea exchange. This year, Emerge members co-led breakout sessions with Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce members. The four sessions were:

  •  Expanding Downtown Transportation Options: Mickey Jacob, FAIA, BDG Architects & Emerge Member Alana Brasier, Renaissance Planning Group 
  • Increasing Downtown Tourism: Alex Kaptzan, Visit Tampa Bay & Emerge Member Selina Radlein, Moffit Cancer Center
  • What do Young Professionals want from Channelside?: Thom Stork, Florida Aquarium & Emerge Member Leonardo Dosoretz, Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
  • What do Young Professionals want from Downtown?: Ashly Anderson, Tampa Downtown Partnership & Emerge Member Joel Brown, Office of Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater

District 3 was an appropriate location for Emerge members to discuss their ideas. The former warehouse, now a polished and atmospheric event space, was originally a market for goods transported from the Port of Tampa by rail. Just as goods and services were once exchanged here in the early 1900s, on this night, so were ideas.

If this young professional event sounds timely, that’s because it is. Mere blocks from District 3, Emerge’s temporary think tank, major swaths of both the Channelside and Harbour Island neighborhoods have been purchased for the purpose of redevelopment. As Tampa’s future leaders, we want a say in what happens to these areas.

As Erin Cassidy, the 2015 Chair of Emerge, noted, Tampa is at a critical point for future development. This summit was Emerge’s first step towards producing a coherent recommendation regarding what Tampa will look like for the near and distant future.