Diversity of talent emerges as a common theme during virtual Meet the Projects

August 28, 2020

More than 100 EDC Investors and special guests gathered virtually yesterday to hear from five recent projects that chose Tampa for their business expansions. A common theme emerged: diversity of talent 

The five presenting companies represented a diverse mix of industries including financial services, marketing technology, logistics and IT recruitment. They were also geographically diverse, hailing from all parts of the country – and even internationally – to expand operations in Tampa.  

Here are some highlights the presenters had to share about why Tampa was the right choice for their companies: 


In December, Boston-based Drift, a leading marketing technology company, announced Tampa as the location of its fourth office with plans to grow to 100 employees.  

According to senior director Jared Fuller, Drift was looking for a city that was invested in becoming the next technology hub, where they could participate in growing the ecosystem of diverse tech talent. They conducted a lot of research and they found that right now Tampa is where Austin was 10-15 years ago.   

In just seven months Drift already has 57 employees, and the entire team here wholeheartedly believes that they can help create the next great city in America.  

Drift is just one percent of the VC backed companies with LatinX co-founders. Elias Torres is originally from Nicaragua and upon coming to the U.S. for the first time, he landed in Tampa at 17 years-old and went on to attend the University of South Florida before heading to Harvard and starting successful companies in Boston.  

Their stories are ones that are truly American Dream stories. They knew there was an opportunity to build a pillar company in Tampa, like HubSpot was a pillar company for Boston“We want to be the new face of corporate America, and that is very important to us, especially with founders who come very untraditional backgrounds,” said Fuller. 

Fisher Investments 

In June, investment advising firm Fisher Investments announced it was opening its first East Coast office in Tampa’s Westshore Business District with plans to create 600 new jobs. 

Jill Hitchcock, senior executive vice president, shared that when looking for the fourth state for Fisher’s expansion they took a top-down approach. They first looked at states with no income taxand they knew they wanted to be on the East Coast time zone to better serve clients. They also were looking for a diverse community.  

They started with 25 employees, mostly relocations from their other offices in Washington State and California, but they plan to have up to 100 employees in the Tampa office by the end of the year. And they expect future growth to mimic that of its Texas office, which after three years has more than 600 employees. So far, employees are loving the Tampa Bay area’s weather, outdoor activities, neighborhoods, food, and the friendliness of the community. 

While they were anticipating a strong talent pool, Fisher has been pleased with the candidates coming to them, from the number, the quality, the diversity, and the skill sets. 

iO Associates 

In July, UK-based tech recruitment firm iO Associates announced plans to open its first U.S. office in Tampa. Ben Leach, vice president – USA, has dreamed of living and working in America since spending summers vacationing here as a child. 

The company looked at traditional sites like Boston, New York and Atlanta before deciding to explore further. Everything they saw about Tampa – economic development, growth, fantastic academic institutions, lifestyle – appealed to them.  

Working in an extremely competitive industry like technology and Cloud, the war for talent is intense so what iO Associates seeks to do is partner with their clients and act as an extension to their brand, to help advise them and be flexible on their approach in order to give them a competitive advantage when identifying talent. 

They are excited to start engaging with the local business community and their business strategy is to grow their U.S. headquarters out of Tampa with 50 employees by the end of the first year. 

PennyMac Loan Services 

Earlier this year, direct mortgage lender PennyMac announced it was expanding its Tampa regional headquarters to create 400 new jobs in mortgage fulfillment, underwriting, administration, operations and sales.  

The Tampa office first opened in 2012 with 20 employees and has since grown to more than 600. They love the Tampa community and are frequent supporters of local organizations like Trinity Café and Feeding Tampa Bay.  

After learning that some of their own employees were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, PennyMac developed a friends and family program to recruit new employees and support their existing team members. They would also love to attract college students who were previously working in the hospitality industry. They see an opportunity in getting them in the door now and then helping them grow within the company upon graduation. 

Penske Truck Leasing 

In 2019, Penske picked Tampa as the location for a new software development hub with plans to create over 30 high-wage technology jobs. 

Penske was finding it more difficult to attract and retain tech talent in Reading, Penn., where the company is headquartered, and they were also largely reliant on contract labor, which wasn’t ideal. So, in 2018 they started a nationwide search to find the right place to extend their technology presence.  

Penske homed in on three cities – Dallas, Atlanta and Tampa. According to Paul Maglionico, vice president of system development and IT support services, after visiting Tampa they decided they didn’t need to visit the other two markets because they had found what they needed here.  

And what they found was an extensive technology labor pool and great academic institutions preparing future talent. An affordable cost of living and attractive quality of life were also major factors in the decision.  

Penske’s experience so far has been very favorable. They built out a 9,000 square-foot agile development center in the Westshore district, where they can draw on talent from across the region. 

Thank you to all of the presenters for sharing their time and insight, and to our Investors and special guests who attended our first virtual Meet the Projects. 

If you would like to connect with any of the presenters or if you have a prospect for our business development team, please email Steve Morey at smorey@tampabayedc.com