Investor Spotlight: Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority

March 16, 2015

The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is a user-financed public agency led by a board of local citizens. Operating with no tax dollars, THEA develops and owns toll highways, including Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, as well as non-tolled roads, including Brandon Parkway and Meridian Avenue. All tolls collected by THEA are reinvested into projects in Hillsborough County.

As CEO, Joe Waggoner leads the agency’s work in addressing the future transportation needs of the Tampa Bay area. Waggoner, an EDC Executive Committee member, sat down with us to discuss how transportation and infrastructure affects our community’s mission to recruit more businesses, and why they play such a key role in enhancing the overall quality of life in the region.

In your view, what was the biggest win for Tampa and Hillsborough County in recent years?
The I-4/Selmon Expressway Connector is a major addition to our regional transportation network. The Connector improves the movement of people and goods, offers exclusive truck access to Port Tampa Bay, and serves as an additional hurricane evacuation route – all this, with the time-saving, money-saving convenience of all-electronic tolling. Developed in partnership with THEA, the Florida Department of Transportation, and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, the Connector carried 13,000 vehicles per day in its first month and is now carrying approximately 30,000 vehicles per day. To accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic on the Selmon Expressway, THEA widened a portion of the Expressway in downtown Tampa.  By combining these two projects, we were able to optimize use of the Connector for our customers.

What motivated you to become an investor of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC?
We believe, as the Tampa Hillsborough EDC does, in the power of collaboration and the importance of promoting the economic vitality of our community.  The EDC has a committed group of investors from both the public and private sectors who are focused on attracting business and workforce to our area. Transportation plays a huge part in this discussion. The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is proud to help with transportation issues that our community faces.  The infrastructure we provide is the foundation to support economic growth.

Where do you derive the most benefit for yourself and your organization as an Investor of the EDC?Tampa Hillsborough Express Way
At THEA, we build and maintain strategic partnerships to help with the transportation issues facing our community. The ability to talk to the leaders in Tampa to learn their ideas and to become more of a resource for the community fits well with our mission.

What makes Tampa and Hillsborough County such a great place to do business?
As Mayor Buckhorn says, “It’s our time!”  Tampa is a big city – with all of the amenities, but with a small town feel.  We welcome newcomers with open arms.  Opportunities to get involved in our community are endless. Collaboration between local government and industry is key to what makes us one of the best places to start, grow, and succeed in business. With over 50 choices for continuing education, Tampa offers a well-educated workforce and an opportunity for employees to continue their professional development.