Talent and welcoming community among chief reasons why companies choose Tampa

April 13, 2023

Presenters at Meet the Projects include from left to right: Michael Stokes, Ridgeline International; Amanda Abernethy, Clarify; Seema Venugopal, PGIM; Kayla Comeaux, Justworks; Joseph Castonguay, Autoslide; and John Hitchen, Strive Sales

The Tampa Bay EDC recently hosted another installment of our wildly popular event series, Meet the Projects, sponsored by Shumaker. Leaders from some of our recent projects gathered at The Florida Aquarium to share their “Why we chose Tampa Bay” stories with our Investors.

Several themes emerged as chief reasons for why these companies chose Tampa for their relocations or latest expansions: highly skilled talent, lower business costs, welcoming and friendly community, top-rated airport, and proximity to existing clients. In addition to growing their business and local workforce, future plans for the companies also include getting involved in our community and giving back to local nonprofits.

Autoslide, a producer of automatic door systems, recently relocated its North American headquarters from Glendale, Calif. to Tampa with plans to create 15 jobs. Joseph Castonguay, president of Autoslide North America, cited two main reasons for their move: business costs and quality of life. Tampa offers much lower business costs, taxes and regulations while offering employees a much better quality of life. Castonguay also noted that Tampa offers a competitive talent pool to other major markets and it’s easier for their customers, most of which are located east of the Mississippi, to travel to Tampa.

Future plans for Autoslide, which is a division of Australian-based ADIS, include bringing research and development and assembly functions to Tampa. The company also wants to work with as many local partners as possible and support local nonprofits.

A trend that our Business Development team has noticed over the past year is an increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) leads and projects. At Meet the Projects, we had two UK-based companies present. First up was Clarify, a sales and marketing firm that works with scale ups and big tech companies to build their pipeline. Last year, the company announced it would launch its U.S. operations in Tampa.

With several clients based in the U.S., expanding its operations was a logical next step. Clarify ultimately decided on Tampa after being advised that it’s one of the fastest-growing tech markets. Amanda Abernethy, chief strategy officer and director with Clarify, also mentioned the talent here and Tampa’s location in the Eastern Time Zone, which makes it easy to work across the UK and European times zones. Tampa Airport’s two nonstop daily flights to London also didn’t hurt.

Presenters at Meet the Projects answer audience questions.

Justworks is an HR technology platform providing small businesses and entrepreneurs with access to benefits, payroll, HR tools and compliance support all in one place. Headquartered in New York City, the company supports 10,000 small businesses today. Justworks selected Tampa for its newest office and has started building its local team out of Industrious in downtown Tampa, supporting roles in sales, payment and tax. Tampa’s entrepreneurial spirit and incredible amount of talent is what lured Justworks to Tampa, according to Kayla Comeaux, the launch captain of the Tampa office. Justworks plans to host conferences and events here in the future and looks forward to expanding its brand with visits to local universities and giving back to the community.

PGIM is the global asset management business of Prudential, and one of the largest asset management firms. Headquartered in New Jersey, PGIM was looking to expand and grow. After considering many cities, Tampa was the clear match, according to Seema Venugopal, Director of Human Resources. She cited Tampa’s inclusive and diverse community, skilled talent pipeline, and competitive local universities and colleges as some of the deciding factors. PGIM hires a lot of new graduates and you don’t have to sell Tampa to them – they already want to stay here and start their careers.

Ridgeline International is a cybersecurity company helping businesses and government organizations solve their toughest data problems through Digital Signature Management. Recognizing that the government isn’t just in Washington, D.C., Ridgeline decided to go where its customers are and Tampa was attractive because of our strong military and government presence.

In addition to the large veteran community calling Tampa Bay home, Michael Stokes, Ridgeline’s vice president of strategic growth, said that as a burgeoning tech market, Ridgeline can benefit from the strong tech talent in Tampa, too. Ridgeline trains 2,800 students a year on protecting their digital signature and Stokes said they are looking to hire software developers and engineers for its Tampa office.

Strive Sales, a specialized recruitment firm focused on early stage and early funding companies, was the second of our UK-based companies to present. Just last month the company announced it was launching its first international office in Tampa. With most of Strive’s clients headquartered in the U.S., the company started looking at different states and U.S. cities more than a year ago. After visiting multiple markets, it was the visit to Tampa that won their hearts straight away, said John Hitchen, managing director of Strive. The data the EDC provided helped close the deal, but it was Tampa’s welcoming and friendly hospitality that ultimately sealed the deal. Strive is looking to grow their Tampa office with recent graduates who want to get into sales.

Thank you to all of our presenters for sharing their stories with us and thank you to our Investors for their continued support. We couldn’t bring these exciting new companies to our community without you!

If your company is looking to thrive in a vibrant and growing community, contact Adam Myers at amyers@tampabayedc.com to learn more about Tampa’s business advantages.