Tampa Bay Economic Development Council recaps fiscal year, honors Community Transformer Award winner at Annual Meeting 

October 29, 2020

Global Law Firm Baker McKenzie recognized with award for its profound impact on the local community  

TAMPA, Fla. (October 29, 2020) – Today, more than 400 business and community leaders from across Tampa Bay tuned in to the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council’s virtual Annual Meeting.  

While it was a year filled with unpredictable challenges, it wasn’t a year without wins. Those wins, which include 2,650 new jobs and a near record-breaking $595 million in capital investment, were recapped during the livestreamed event. The theme Onward signified the EDC’s spirit and determination in these times: to continue to propel the Tampa Bay economy forward and find a way to make a positive difference. 

“I am incredibly proud of our team for the perseverance they’ve shown this year,” said Craig Richard, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. “Everyone adapted quickly to working in a virtual environment so that we didn’t miss a beat. We still reached many of our goals and are on track with our strategic plan.” 

For the second year, the Tampa Bay EDC announced the winner of the Community Transformer Award, presented by TECO. The award honors a company that has either recently relocated to Tampa or expanded in this market, and in addition to creating jobs and capital investment, has contributed their time, talent and treasure toward the betterment of the local community. This year’s winner is Baker McKenzie. 

“The competition for the Community Transformer Award was fierce this year. Our judges had to review six very deserving candidates,” said Archie Collins, Chief Operating Officer, Tampa Electric. “Since opening their Tampa Center in 2019, Baker McKenzie has made it a priority to support and get involved in our community. They are also some of our biggest ambassadors for promoting Tampa as a great place to live, work and enjoy life. Congratulations to Jamie Lawless and the entire Tampa Center team!” 

Jamie Lawless, executive director of Baker McKenzie’s Tampa Center, accepts the Community Transformer Award presented by TECO

Baker McKenzie’s all-female leadership team serves on many boards and their employees support numerous organizations and events that serve veterans, the homeless, the food insecure and Alzheimer’s patients. Globally, Baker McKenzie has absolute dedication to diversity and inclusion, and the Tampa Center supports the local LGBTQ and transgender community with volunteer time, financial support and awareness activities.   

After recapping the 2020 fiscal year, EDC chair Marie Chinnici-Everitt and Richard looked to the new year ahead and announced the 2021 slate of officers, which were approved by the board prior to the virtual annual meeting. Those new officers are: 

  • Chair, Jim Weiss of Fifth Third Bank 
  • Vice Chair, James Nozar of SPP 
  • Secretary and Treasurer, Angel Gonzalez of CenterState Bank 
  • General Counsel, Ron Christaldi of Shumaker 

Weiss then took the reins to talk about the priorities he’d like to tackle during his tenure as chair – activating the Placemaking element of the EDC’s strategic plan. Placemaking is about more than creating a quality of place, it’s about an intentional focus on inclusive prosperity and bringing investment and opportunity to every corner of the county. This year, the EDC will bring on a Community Redevelopment Director, who will work closely with the EDC’s city and county partners to market Opportunity Zones to businesses and identify programs that can help residents achieve living wage careers.  

Another priority is competitiveness. Without any state job creation incentives, Weiss told attendees that Tampa and Hillsborough County will have to be more creative and resourceful than ever when competing with other states for transformative projects. The EDC will launch a Competitiveness Committee to tap into the formidable expertise of Investors. The EDC will also collaborate with the Florida Economic Development Council and peer organizations across the state to develop strategies to maintain competitiveness and propel the state’s recovery.  

“We definitely have our work cut out for us this year, but I’m confident that our EDC staff, partners and Investors are up to the challenge,” said Weiss. “For those business and community leaders not yet involved in the EDC, I encourage you to get involved and share your experience so that we can make our community truly extraordinary.” 

About the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council 

The Tampa Bay Economic Development Council is the lead designated economic development agency for Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace. Established in 2009 as a partnership between the public sector and private corporate investors, the EDC works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention and expansion of high-wage jobs and capital investment within targeted industry sectors, including Corporate Headquarters, Financial and Professional Services, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Defense and Security, Distribution and Logistics, and Manufacturing. The EDC exists because of the generous support of more than 100 corporations, Hillsborough County, and the cities of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace.