Changing perceptions about Tampa and Hillsborough County – one story at a time

April 25, 2018


It’s been a great month for Tampa and Hillsborough County in the national and international news. In the last few weeks, our community has made headlines on several fronts that will enhance our ability to attract the best talent, fuel the growth of local businesses, and lure more jobs and capital investment to our market.
Our K-12 system received a boost in perception earlier this month when Hillsborough County Public Schools was recognized among the top-performing large urban school districts in the nation by the National Center for Education Statistics. As the Tampa Bay Times noted in its editorial, the good news is “a welcome step in that debate and a reminder of how a school district’s impact goes far beyond each campus.” From an economic development standpoint, we can demonstrate that our public schools are developing a well-educated future workforce that will help employers grow and stay competitive.
The school district accolades came on the heels of other great news that demonstrates how we are moving the needle in terms of Tampa Bay being perceived as a business destination. Site Selection Magazine’s recently unveiled Top Metros of 2017 ranked the Tampa metro area number one in the state of Florida, placing higher than the competing cities of Miami and Orlando, and number 20 in the nation.
Corporate decisionmakers are looking for vibrant urban environments with abundant skilled talent, great quality of life, low business taxes and an affordable cost of living – all key attributes we sell to prospects every day. These important news items and rankings help to reinforce the proof points we already offer them.
Major national, international media are taking a closer look at Tampa
We are fortunate to live in a community where our business, government, and academic leadership work closely together to align our messaging about the region. This alignment was on display in a great New York Times article that appeared this month about the Water Street Tampa project. The article, secured by SPP’s outstanding team, underscores how far this city has come and highlights its massive, untapped potential. Getting in front of millions of New York Times readers is an incredible win for our community and an important step in chipping away at outdated perceptions they may have about us.
Finally, Tampa received some excellent recognition on major national radio stations in Germany and Switzerland this month. The story, headlined “Silicon Valley is out,” featured Tampa as a viable hot spot for startups looking for lower costs, a supportive culture, and the opportunity to get assistance from seasoned, successful tech entrepreneurs. The story, which featured interviews from Mayor Bob Buckhorn and local entrepreneurs with Swiss and German roots, gave listeners more current insights about Tampa that counter old notions of our area as just a beach or retirement destination.
With every story we publish that highlights Tampa’s desirability as a place to live, work, and build a future, we are changing the world’s perceptions about our community for the better. We still have lots of work to do, but we are clearly making progress.

Craig J. Richard, CEcD, FM