Investor Spotlight: University of South Florida

April 16, 2015

One of the largest public universities in the country, the University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 50 research university, among both public and private institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation.

USF President Judy Genshaft has been a powerful force in the Tampa Bay community and a catalyst for economic development through USF’s collaboration with local and state governments, as well as regional business leaders. She has focused on partnering university research, which has grown from $186 million to more than $428 million, with corporate and entrepreneurial partners and recruited major international institutions to expand in the area. One of the region’s most well-regarded female leaders, President Genshaft has been lauded by both professional organizations and community groups throughout her career.

In your view, what was the biggest win for Tampa and Hillsborough County in recent years?
What’s been remarkable as our area has emerged from the recession is the incredible momentum that is being built through a series of big wins, medium-size wins, and even small daily triumphs. Building a resilient and sustainable economy is something that happens day by day and step by step. I like to think that every USF student who graduates and adds to the talent of our workforce is a win; every company that relocates to Tampa and Hillsborough County is a win; and the surge of development in downtown Tampa and our urban core, which will stimulate job growth and keep our talented graduates in Tampa, is also a huge win. It’s a “big win” for USF to be fully integrated in our regional economy, whether it’s our plans to locate the USF College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa with Jeff Vinik’s redevelopment area, or the strong connections we have with leading employers, other leading economic forces, such as MacDill Air Force Base, and leading innovative institutions, such as Tampa General Hospital, the James A. Haley VA Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center, and Draper Laboratories.

What motivated you to become an investor of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC?
Economic development is a key component of the University of South Florida System’s mission. As a metropolitan research university, we educate students, conduct research, and invent new technologies and products. But we also conduct all those activities with an eye on expanding and strengthening the economy in our region, across Florida and beyond.

What makes Tampa and Hillsborough County such a great place to do business?
There is a great entrepreneurial spirit throughout Tampa and Hillsborough County, as well as a true commitment to building a better future for our community. Everywhere you go, public and private sector leaders are thinking about how their organizations can contribute to the future and provide widespread opportunity to a very diverse county. Any business owner will tell you that they don’t just have to worry about what’s happening in the present, but they constantly have to be thinking about how to grow and expand in the future to stay competitive. There’s a culture of optimism here that really supports the idea that we can shape the future.

What makes Tampa and Hillsborough County an ideal place for a corporate headquarters?
We have a well-qualified workforce which is adding and expanding skills every single day. USF alone produces almost 13,000 new degrees each year, and our diverse graduates are truly prepared to be competitive in a global economy. We have a rapidly growing health and biosciences cluster that not only provides world-class health care, but also innovative treatments and medical devices. We’re so proud that USF Health is right at the center of that sector. We have forward-thinking leadership at all levels of government. We have a beautiful environment that makes this a very desirable place to live. Hillsborough County has some great public schools, and safe, close-knit neighborhoods. But most importantly, we have a strong community of people willing to work very, very hard to create an environment of inclusive success. Not every city has that atmosphere, and it’s our greatest competitive advantage.