Investor Spotlight: Westshore Alliance

October 23, 2017

The Westshore Alliance is a membership-based organization of business leaders focused on shaping future growth and fostering economic prosperity of the Westshore district. Since 1983, the Alliance and its member businesses have been advocates for improvements in Westshore that have created the vibrant district that exists today. Driven by priorities developed by its board and members, the Alliance focuses on transportation, urban planning, promoting Westshore, public safety, and connecting the business community.

Ann Kulig is Executive Director of the Westshore Alliance, leading efforts to implement strategic priorities of the Alliance’s board of directors and member companies. She joined the Alliance as Director of Marketing in 2002, was promoted to Deputy Director in 2014, and she began serving as Executive Director last year. Prior to joining the Alliance, she spent more than 15 years in a variety of marketing roles with technology, banking, and professional services firms in the Tampa Bay area.

Tampa and Hillsborough County continues to rise as a top business destination for relocations and expansions. When you are traveling or visiting other markets, what do you tell the people you meet about our community?
 I tell people that Tampa is truly a tremendous place to do business. We have a growing, diverse economy with plenty of opportunity for even more growth. I highlight the new energy and investment in the area, the expansion of Tampa International Airport, and the major corporations that have located significant operations in Tampa. The fact that companies like Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, PwC, Johnson & Johnson, and others have selected Tampa for business expansions is testament to the fact that Tampa is “ready for business.”

How does your company impact the business culture of Tampa and Hillsborough County?
We are constantly working to improve Westshore to create an environment that is attractive to businesses, employees, residents, and visitors.  We’ve evolved from a place where people just “went to work” to a vibrant community where people want to work, live, and play. The Alliance provides the forum for our business members to share their vision for Westshore and to turn the vision into a reality. We’ve developed a districtwide master plan to improve public spaces in Westshore, we’ve secured funding for parks and greenspace, we implement pedestrian improvements, and we focus on many other initiatives that make Westshore a place people want to be.

Talent recruitment has become a huge strategic initiative of the EDC over the past few years. How are you selling out-of-state talent on Tampa and Hillsborough County? Why is local talent inclined to stay here?
It may sound cliché, but Tampa really does offer the combination of great career opportunities and a fantastic community in which to live.  We’re proud of our partnership with the EDC and are actively engaged in joint marketing efforts to attract top talent to Tampa Bay. In the 30 years I’ve been in this market, one of the things that stands out to me is that Tampa is a very welcoming community. It’s easy to get established and make your mark, something that can’t be said about many other large cities.

Where do you derive the most benefit for yourself and your company as an EDC Investor?
While we focus on creating an attractive business environment in Westshore, the EDC is in essence a key part of the sales team that attracts new and growing businesses to the district.  The EDC team possesses the knowledge and resources to spotlight our region on a national and international level. Our partnership with the EDC gives us the opportunity to share information and collaborate on strategic initiatives that support economic growth and development.

The EDC offers a variety of services to the local business community, as well as businesses looking to relocate or expand their operations into Hillsborough County. In your opinion, what is the most valuable service provided by the EDC?
The EDC does an excellent job of navigating the relocation and expansion process from start to finish. Not only does the team work hard to ensure a smooth company transition, they provide businesses with extensive employee resources and connections to make everyone feel welcome and quickly engaged in their new community. I believe this level of service sets us apart from other areas, making Tampa and Hillsborough County a top business destination for companies and their employees.