Investor Spotlight: Busch Gardens
October 22, 2015
The ultimate family adventure, Busch Gardens® Tampa offers 300 acres of fascinating attractions, one of the largest animal collections in the country, live shows, restaurants, shops, and games, providing unrivaled excitement for guests of every age. Not only is Busch Gardens Tampa home to North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s Fury®, visitors have the opportunity to closely observe veterinary care at the state-of-the-art Animal Care Center, journey to the four corners of the earth in the original live show, Iceploration, and experience up-close animal encounters.
Park President Jim Dean began his career in the theme park industry when he joined Anheuser-Busch in 1985. He worked in a number of locations across the country and in Europe before moving to Orlando in 2008 to help relocate the corporate office of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. In 2009, he made Tampa his home where he is currently Park President of Busch Gardens and Adventure Island, overseeing two of the best theme parks in the world. Dean serves on the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Strategy Committee and is active in the community serving on numerous boards in the Tampa Bay area.
What business expansion or relocation project has had the biggest impact on Tampa and Hillsborough County?
We’ve had a lot to be excited about in Tampa Bay over the last few years, but I think the one component that has had the biggest impact, and continues to impact our area, are the expansions and redevelopment at Tampa International Airport. They are the national and international face of Tampa Bay, and they continue to make it easier and more convenient for tourists to come and visit, or relocate to our destination. There’s a reason TPA is consistently ranked as one of the top airports in the world, and I think the impact they are making will resonate for years to come – and they aren’t done yet!
What makes Tampa and Hillsborough County an ideal place for a corporate headquarters?
The saying has long been that the Tampa Bay area truly has something for everyone. I think the same can be said from a business standpoint. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in Tampa Bay that can’t be beaten, providing the base for a business climate that fosters growth and expansion. That combined with one of the largest business districts in Florida, with the Westshore area, make Tampa Bay a homerun for any business to set up shop. And then you look at what our destination has to offer employees when they aren’t at work; the choice is obvious.
What role do you see your organization playing in helping to shape our community’s future?
It’s hard for our visitors to not fall in love with Busch Gardens and Adventure Island and our community with all that we have to offer. We frequently host visitors that are considering Tampa Bay as their new home, and our parks provide families the perfect entertainment to complement all that our area has to offer. Busch Gardens has been a leader in the community for more than five decades, hosting millions of tourists and local visitors every year, and through our partnership with the Tampa Hillsborough EDC and other economic development organizations, we will continue to make investments in our community to create a better place to live, work, and play. Additionally, through the Tampa Innovation Alliance and partnerships with the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center, Florida Hospital and others, we will enhance the area around Busch Gardens and elevate the business potential for the entire destination.
Where do you derive the most benefit for yourself and your organization as an Investor of the EDC? By supporting the EDC and its mission, we benefit most from the thriving local economy. The more successful the EDC is in attracting and retaining jobs in our community, the more successful we are in hosting visitors from our local community. The EDC is committed to bringing resources together and aligning Tampa Bay’s leaders for the common good to ensure that our destination continues to grow and prosper. They are not only a resource for Busch Gardens to tap in to the heart of the business community in the Tampa Bay region, but they are leveraging that community to solidify our position has a leading business destination in the United States. It’s important to recognize that we can achieve a lot more together than we can alone, and that’s where the Tampa Hillsborough EDC comes in.