Economic Yearbook 2007
TAMPA BAY: Fulfilling the Promise
Focusing on SRI International and a Merck venture.
ECONOMY: While the economy isn't as robust as it was a couple of years ago, it is still pretty strong. "We still have a lot of big projects coming out of the ground," says Geraldine Campos, Clearwater's director of economic development and housing. Some of those large developments include the 25-story Water's Edge condominium being built downtown by Opus South Corp. and Station Square, a 15-story condominium project on Cleveland Street being developed by Amon Investments.
CHALLENGES: The housing market slowdown, along with concerns over insurance costs, is forcing local companies to come up with new ways to do business. "In this market, companies have to innovate to survive," says Campos.
GROWTH: Of the six counties that make up the Tampa Bay area, Pinellas is growing the slowest, with a population increase of just 0.5% from 2002 to 2006. But Mike Meidell, director of Pinellas County Economic Development, says there's a lot going on behind the numbers. He says, for example, that the county's population grew by 6,000 last year, but that amount includes 45,000 people moving in and 39,000 people moving out. "That's a rapid churn of population, which is bringing a lot of new people to our area," Meidell says. "And that's where most of the new workers are coming from -- from the recent arrivals."
JOBS: The county created 18,000 jobs from December 2005 to December 2006. ... SRI International's arrival in St. Petersburg is expected to expand opportunities for everyone. "The match between SRI and our installed, diverse base of industry is just really tremendous," Meidell says. "We should see new products, new companies and ultimately whole new industries sprouting up right here in Tampa Bay."
? Morton Plant Mease recently opened its $52-million, 174,715- sq.-ft. Morton Plant Mease Morgan Heart Hospital in Clearwater. The facility features the latest in heart-treatment technology. Operating suites, for example, have video equipment suspended from the ceiling that will allow surgeons to tap into the hospital's computer system. The equipment includes voice-activation technology that will allow doctors to view X-rays on flat-screen monitors during surgery. The equipment will also allow doctors to hold teleconferences from the operating room. "In terms of innovation and technology, Morton Plant really is on the cutting edge," says Geraldine Campos, Clearwater's director of economic development and housing.