Site selectors give Tampa area high marks

April 17, 2016

Earlier this month, the Tampa Hillsborough EDC hosted six members of the Site Selectors Guild, the world’s leading consortium of location advisory consultants, on a multi-day tour to gain their insights on Tampa and Hillsborough County’s competitiveness as a destination for major corporate relocation and expansion projects.

Their conclusion?

“You can compete with any city in the world on many projects,” said Deane Foote, a founding board member of the Guild and CEO of Foote Consulting Group.

The six Guild members on the tour included Foote, Chris Lloyd of McGuireWoods Consulting, Larry Moretti of LFM Corporate Location Solutions, Scott Redabaugh of JLL Business Consulting Group, Andy Shapiro of Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company and Jerry Szatan of Szatan and Associates. In less than two days, they met with nearly 60 local business, government, and academic leaders as well as top officials from Enterprise Florida, which sponsored the event. Highlights of the tour included updates from Tampa International Airport, Port Tampa Bay, a meeting with Jeff Vinik and his team from Strategic Property Partners for an update on the $2 billion redevelopment project underway in downtown Tampa, and a site visit in Plant City to learn more about the burgeoning opportunities for manufacturing and distribution operations in eastern Hillsborough County.

During the SSG Advisory Forum on April 8, the group shared their impressions of Tampa’s strengths and opportunities with over 200 attendees at a breakfast at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel.

“This market has matured so much that it’s only a matter of time before you land a brand-name corporate headquarters,” said Andy Shapiro, who was the site selection consultant responsible for recommending Bristol-Myers Squibb’s North America Capability Center to Tampa and has been bringing clients to the area for years.

Shapiro specifically called attention to the redevelopment of downtown Tampa, and the plans SPP and Port Tampa Bay are executing that will completely transform the area in the next decade. “Until this trip, I did not think Tampa offered the CBD (central business district) environment that a lot of our clients are looking for. Now there’s a real CBD opportunity here.”

Larry Moretti, who is also familiar with the market and has done several projects here, noted that Tampa “has been on (site selectors’) radar for years.” But the area has gained significant momentum since 2010, he continued, and “the changes I have seen on this visit point to the whole region heading toward a great future.”

For Jerry Szatan, who is less familiar with the area, the industrial possibilities he saw in eastern Hillsborough County were notable. “Plant City’s manufacturing potential was a big surprise. There is great opportunity there…it will be a different city five years from now.”

Tampa’s industry diversity, affordability and low barriers to entry for new arrivals make it an extremely attractive location, said Chris Lloyd. “Tampa is a real center of business…you offer a lot of choices that make it easier for site selectors to keep bringing projects here.”

It came as no surprise to hear that the availability of skilled talent is still the most important consideration for most of the site selectors’ clients. One thing that distinguishes this region in terms of talent, according to JLL’s Scott Redabaugh, is “the strong collaboration across the business and academic communities compared to other places. Tampa has great assets to feed its workforce pipeline.”

Shapiro and Moretti, who have watched Tampa and Hillsborough’s economy evolve over the past couple of decades, concluded that the area continues to raise its game as a national and global business destination. “Every time I come back here, this place takes another step up,” Shapiro said.

Moretti, nodding in agreement, added, “The word is out about Tampa.”

To read more about Tampa’s SSG Advisory Forum, see Tampa Bay Times’ business columnist Robert Trigaux’s recap here.

Interested in learning more about how the EDC can assist you with a relocation or expansion project? Contact Steve Morey, Vice President of Business Development, at 813-518-2630 or