Foodie scene, craft beer attract millennial CEOs, traffic not so much

June 16, 2016

Amber Hair | Tampa Bay Business Journal

The Tampa Bay area received strong marks in economic factors that attract millennials and millennial CEOs in a report released by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

The report, which combined two surveys to compare the Tampa Bay region to four other metropolitan areas, looked at factors such as work-life balance, pro-business local and state leadership, and the local labor force and infrastructure, which the millennials surveyed said were important to them.

The other cities – Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas and Nashville – were chosen, said ChappellRoberts President and CEO Colleen Chappell, because they frequently compete against Tampa for business relocation and expansion projects.

“We’re making a very focused effort to not just talk to [millennial CEOs], but with them,” Chappell said.

She is also the 2016 chairman of the EDC.

Chappell presented the findings of the report Tuesday in front of a crowd of approximately 100 at the Beck Group in Tampa. One survey was directed at millennial CEOs, and the other was aimed toward a broader range of millennials.

The report found that the Tampa Bay market – which covers not just Tampa, but also St. Petersburg and Clearwater, as well as Pasco and Hernando counties – has the highest ratings among the five markets for state and local pro-business leadership, labor costs, cost of living, and being “an area I would like to live in.”

The city of Tampa also has the lowest crime rates of the five cities studied.

Other millennial drawing points include outdoor spaces, such as the beaches and parks, the weather, and the foodie and craft beer scenes.

“We’re on the right track,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “There’s a path because we have the right material. There’s a story to tell. We just have to tell it.”

The report went on to advise using local millennial CEOs to speak directly to their peers elsewhere about relocating to Tampa Bay. The surveys found that nearly one in four were considering moving their company headquarters within the next one to three years, and millennial CEOs who were already here had the lowest percentage of respondents (16 percent) who said they were very or somewhat likely to move their headquarters elsewhere, as compared to Atlanta (24 percent), Charlotte (20 percent), Dallas (28 percent) and Nashville (28 percent).

Detractors were Tampa’s traffic, transportation and infrastructure not keeping up with growth, the report said. However, the data also pointed out that similar concerns about traffic congestion elsewhere led business disadvantages of three of the four cities, with concerns about K-12 public schools beating traffic for the top issue in Charlotte.

While the traffic here seems horrible to many, out-of-market CEOs didn’t think so. Some said our region’s shorter commute times are an important positive attribute.

Another thing the Tampa Bay area needs to work on, according to the survey, is promoting the message of a skilled workforce. While the report acknowledges that local CEOs know about the region’s talent pool, those from other regions might not know about Tampa Bay’s skilled workforce.