Tampa Bay Economic Development Council recaps UNSTOPPABLE year at Annual Meeting

November 5, 2021

Cybersecurity leader ReliaQuest recognized for its profound impact on the local community with 3rd Annual Community Transformer Award presented by TECO

TAMPA, Fla. (November 5, 2021) – The Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, along with more than 350 business and community leaders, celebrated its accomplishments from the past fiscal year while looking ahead to key initiatives for FY2022 during its Unstoppable Annual Meeting presented by Fifth Third Bank on Wednesday evening, November 3 at the JW Marriott in Water Street.

While it was a year dogged by ongoing Covid obstacles, the Tampa Bay EDC team continued to persevere and stay laser-focused on its mission to attract new jobs and capital investment to Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace. In total, the Tampa Bay EDC closed 22 projects, which will bring 2,789 jobs and more than $325 million in capital investment.

“2021 has been another wild year but my team took it all in stride, continuously demonstrating their talent, resilience and dedication to our organization and community,” said Craig J. Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay EDC. “It’s because of my team’s hard work that we continue to meet our goals, have made tremendous headway in our strategic plan, and that Tampa Bay is now widely recognized as a great market for business and talent.”

Tampa Bay EDC President and CEO Craig Richard with 2021 Chair Jim Weiss and 2022 Chair James Nozar

Other fiscal year highlights include:

  • Four new corporate relocations, including OPSWAT, Suzuki Marine, Signode, Genesis Systems
  • Pfizer chose Tampa for its new global capability hub, making it the fourth recruited Fortune 500 biopharmaceutical corporation to Tampa, following Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson and Amgen
  • The EDC employed new digital tool Gazelle AI to target prospect companies through a lead generation campaign on LinkedIn that yielded eight high-quality leads
  • Global Tampa Bay hosted a two-day virtual trade mission with counterparts in the UK that included more than 60 participants from Tampa Bay and UK companies
  • The EDC’s Investor retention rate is 94% and financial position is strong with increased cash reserves and net assets up by 8% over last year
  • A LinkedIn talent attraction campaign generated more than 680k impressions and nearly 2,000 visits to the Make It Tampa Bay website and job board
  • The EDC is collaborating with HCC and CareerSource Tampa Bay to develop grassroots campaigns that will educate local residents about training opportunities for good paying jobs in skilled trades
  • And the EDC hired a community development director who has been working diligently with city and county partners to develop strategies for marketing Opportunity Zones.

For the third consecutive year, the Tampa Bay EDC honored a local company with the Community Transformer Award, presented by TECO. The award recognizes a past EDC project company that has gone above and beyond creating jobs and bringing capital investment to Tampa Bay, but has also positively impacted the community by donating time, treasure and talent. This year’s winner is ReliaQuest.

“ReliaQuest has been instrumental in building Tampa’s reputation as a hub for cybersecurity, they have invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours of staff time in this community, and they are a prime example that world-class entrepreneurial companies can launch and grow in Tampa,” said Josh Baumgartner, TECO’s director of External Affairs and Economic Development, while presenting the award to ReliaQuest’s senior vice president of People, Isabel Dewey.

Isabel Dewey with ReliaQuest is presented the 3rd Annual Community Transformer Award presented by TECO

Founded in 2007, ReliaQuest now employs more than 700 people globally at its Tampa headquarters and offices in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Dublin, Amsterdam, Canada and India. ReliaQuest has shown its commitment to training future cybersecurity talent by donating $1 million to the University of South Florida to establish cybersecurity lab programs and an another $1 million to Junior Achievement’s 3DE program. Additionally, ReliaQuest invests in nonprofits and private academies that expose disadvantaged youth to exciting careers in technology and cybersecurity.

A few years ago, the EDC’s board approved the establishment of a new Foundation – the Tampa Bay Economic Prosperity Foundation. Its purpose is to conduct research on underserved neighborhoods in order to understand the needs of local businesses, identify skills deficiencies in the local workforce and other barriers to economic growth, and determine actions that would help reduce poverty and increase household income.

A group photo of Tampa Bay Economic Prosperity Foundation board members and capital campaign donors

This year, the Foundation launched its first capital campaign with a goal to raise $2 million over the next three years to fund its Inclusive Economic Growth Initiative. This initiative was developed to bring jobs, workforce training and capital investment into East Tampa, Central Park, Ybor City, and Uptown. The campaign, which is chaired by former Mayor Bob Buckhorn, has already raised more than $1.3 million – more than half of its goal.

After recapping the 2021 fiscal year, EDC Chair Jim Weiss and Richard moved to have the board approve the new slate of executive officers. The 2022 leadership includes:

  • Chair, James Nozar, SPP
  • Vice Chair, Angel Gonzalez, SouthState Bank
  • Secretary/Treasurer, Joe Lopano, Tampa International Airport
  • General Counsel, Ron Christaldi, Shumaker

Looking ahead to 2022, Chair Nozar previewed new EDC initiatives that are underway. The Business Retention and Expansion program aimed at helping local companies will be revamped to Expand Tampa Bay. Seeking input about the business climate from local employers, the EDC plans to use this insight to identify trends and create solutions that will better support the growth of local companies.

The Make It Tampa Bay talent attraction campaign will get a refresh and reach more highly skilled workers thanks to generous funding from Hillsborough County. The Foundation will launch an awareness campaign that will educate residents of underserved communities about high demand jobs and locally available skills training for one of these good-paying jobs. The EDC will also activate its Competitiveness Committee, which will develop and direct initiatives to enhance our region’s competitiveness as a business destination.

“It’s going to be an incredible year with so many opportunities to make an impact,” said Nozar. “Now is the perfect time to get involved with the EDC and help shape the future of Tampa and Hillsborough County.”

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.