2014 Annual Meeting Recap: Leaders Take Stock of Five Amazing Years, Share Vision for What’s Next
December 1, 2014
The atmosphere in the Amalie Arena was electric, even though the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t hit the ice that night. The buzz among more than 500 business and community leaders chatting over cocktails before the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation’s 2014 Annual Meeting and 5th Anniversary Celebration on October 21 was all about downtown medical schools, reimagining Tampa’s urban core, and the growing number of retail giants, global manufacturing operations, and leading high-tech organizations that are transforming Hillsborough County. It was a night to celebrate an incredible first five years for the EDC and share a vision for the future. But this event was different from typical annual meetings convening the business community for a look back at a productive year. The excitement in the arena was real; the energy was palpable. Everyone could feel it. Tampa and Hillsborough County have got it going on right now.
That roll we’re on? It’s about to pick up a lot more speed in 2015.
Tampa Hillsborough EDC President and CEO Rick Homans kicked off the program by highlighting how far the organization has come since breaking from the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of 100. Not one to rest on his laurels, however, Homans made sure everyone knew that the successes of the past few years are just a warm up. The race – for more high wage jobs, more local business expansions, and a major corporate headquarters – has just begun.
2015 Vice Chair Colleen Chappell moderated a panel of four of the five past chairs of the EDC. Mark House of Beck, Gordon Gillette of Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas, David Pizzo of Florida Blue, and Allen Brinkman of SunTrust Bank Tampa Bay shared their experiences as Chairs of the EDC. They recounted the EDC’s startup days as a newly independent organization, its emergence as a visionary leader initiating and hosting major events like MediFuture, and its triumph over the recession to achieve record-breaking economic success.
Brinkman, the Immediate Past Chair of the EDC, summed up this evolution perfectly: Tampa and Hillsborough County had finally found the confidence – the swagger – to make corporations and site selectors pay serious attention. Major wins for the 2014 fiscal year included Amazon, USAA, Tribridge, and James Hardie. In total, 30 companies announced plans to create 4,532 new jobs and $614 million in capital investment in Hillsborough County. These numbers marked the highest reported job creation numbers in over a decade and the largest amount of capital investment in the history of Hillsborough County.
The program also included a set of quick presentations from local executives who discussed updates and plans for their organizations and the community. This lightning-speed round featured Joe Lopano of Tampa International Airport, Paul Anderson of Port Tampa Bay, the Honorable Mark Sharpe, outgoing Chair of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Dr. Donna Petersen of the University of South Florida, Brian Auld of the Tampa Bay Rays, and City of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Those of us who love living in Tampa and Hillsborough County know that there’s something beyond the great weather and attractiveness as a business destination that makes this place home. Attendees got a first look at the new video series “Executive Perspective,” in which John and Chuck Sykes of Sykes Enterprises, Jeff Vinik of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Elizabeth Smith of Bloomin’ Brands share personal stories about what drew them to Tampa, what it’s like to live here, and the great friends and colleagues they’ve found in this community.
Dr. Ronald Vaughn, President of the University of Tampa and the 2015 Chair of the EDC, concluded the evening by laying out the road ahead. He highlighted the four strategic goals that have led the EDC for the past year and how the team, along with Investors and the community, plans to achieve them.
With a milestone year behind us, the EDC team is ready to accelerate the pace and break even more records in the 2015 fiscal year.