San Francisco business mission showcases Tampa’s considerable advantages

May 29, 2024

On May 6-8, a group of 11 Tampa Bay EDC Investors led by our chairman, Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano, conducted a whirlwind tour of the San Francisco area. Their purpose? To meet with Northern California-based site selection consultants and gain a deeper understanding of what is prompting them to steer client projects to markets like ours. Our team also had the opportunity to share recent developments that have made Tampa even more attractive for companies seeking expansion or relocation.

JLL Silicon Valley’s Executive Managing Director Bart Lammersen and Senior Director of Research Alexander Quinn kicked off the second day of the tour with an overview of the state of the San Francisco market. Key takeaways from their presentation include the following:

  1. The San Francisco MSA would be the sixth largest economy in the US, with a $1.28 Trillion GDP and population of 7.7 Million in comparison to the entire state of Florida, which is has a $1.48 Trillion GDP and population of 22.4 Million.
  2. Despite these numbers, San Francisco’s recovery from the pandemic has been slower compared to other regions.
  3. Silicon Valley is home to 6 of the top 10 largest publicly traded tech companies in the US, accounting for $8.6 Trillion in total market capitalization.
  4. By 2030, Artificial Intelligence (AI)’s potential contribution to the world economy could be as high as $15.7 Trillion, according to PwC. Key sectors include Generative AI, Robotics, Life Sciences and Aerospace and Defense.
  5. AI talent is primarily concentrated in coastal markets, with the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and New York ranking as the top three.
  6. Advanced degrees are now recommended. AI is rapidly displacing junior programmers and portions of the tech work force who lack this level of education.

At a luncheon with site selectors Matt Hart of Cushman & Wakefield and Sean Ferguson of Firetiger Technologies, the Tampa Bay EDC team learned that many California-based companies are looking to expand outside of the state. In the past, Florida has not been a contender. But now, according to Hart, Florida is being viewed favorably due to the business climate and fast-growing talent pool.

“This is a transformative time as Tampa’s business landscape continues to grow and flourish, and we have a lot to learn along the way. I’m thankful we had this time in San Francisco to experience lessons learned from an economic development perspective, which will help drive smart strategies in our own Bay area community,” said Joe Lopano, Chair of the Tampa Bay EDC and CEO of Tampa International Airport.

Whenever the EDC plans a business mission, we leverage our leadership’s connections to include a corporate office visit to one of our Investors. We do this for several reasons. The first is to personally say thanks to the leaders of these firms for choosing Tampa and for investing in our organization. The second reason is to learn more about their future expansion plans and understand ways that we might assist them. On this trip, the EDC delegation was treated to a presentation and tour of Amgen’s new R & D facility in South San Francisco. The group was hosted by Amgen R & D leaders Jason DeVoss, Laura Parmer-Lohan, Steve Arvedson and Christopher Lalli, who discussed the organization’s history, culture, and focus on developing breakthrough technologies.

This new site is Amgen’s second largest R&D facility globally, after Amgen’s headquarters in Thousand Oaks, California. It is a 245,000-square foot, nine-story building that holds up to 650 staff who work across 24 different functions. The EDC group was led on an official white coat tour through a portion of their 90,000 square feet of lab space.

“I’m so grateful for the time spent with this group of leaders. I know we are looking forward to applying the lessons learned during this trip to our own roles as they relate to economic development in the Tampa market,” said Sheylla Aceves, vice president and general counsel of Tiger Concrete and Screed, a Chairman’s Council Investor. “We saw firsthand how the Bay Area was able to attract and maintain various life science companies. We are hopeful that we can apply similar methods in Tampa and continue to grow our life sciences market.”

Our domestic business mission trips are a valuable benefit extended to our Chairman’s Council and Circle of Champion Investors. So if you’re invested at that level, please let Mitch Allen know if you are interested in attending a future one. All Circle of Champion investors are invited to join us on our international business missions. Next up, we’ll be heading to Vancouver on September 9-12 with our Global Tampa Bay partners.

As I’ve said many times before, economic development is a team sport. And thanks to your support, we’ve got the best team of Investors and staff members to sell our market globally and nationally.