Economic Yearbook 2006 - Tampa Bay Area
A New Look
Changing demographics and a furious job market energize communities in the Tampa metro area.
Six years ago, the Brookings Institution named the Tampa Bay region one of the most "largely white metro areas" in the South. It won't be able to wear that label much longer. Between 2000 and 2004, the region's Hispanic population swelled modestly, from 10% to 12%. But Hillsborough County's Hispanic population grew to comprise more than 20% of the total. In Pinellas County, the Hispanic population of Clearwater grew 238% between 1990 and 2000 -- from 2,886 to 9,759 -- and is continuing to rise. Businesses are embracing the changing demographics. Spanish-language newspapers are cropping up, and in August, Clear Channel began broadcasting Tampa Bay's first Spanish-language FM radio station.
Elsewhere in the region, an influx of residents is chasing a fast and furious job market, led by Pasco County, which added 8,300 jobs between 2004 and 2005. Many of the new jobs are a product of the real estate market. "Our economy is still driven by population growth, and you see the industries that service growth and that depend on growth -- including real estate, construction and the services industry, particularly food services and tourism -- continuing to be very strong," says Stuart Rogel, president and chief executive of the Tampa Bay Partnership.
Slow-growing salaries, coupled with skyrocketing home prices, are presenting challenges. The median home price has ballooned nearly 80% over the past five years to more than $216,000, while the median income has increased by only 9.8%.
In the hunt for higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs, the area's science and technology sector appears to hold the most promise. Forbes magazine recently named the Tampa area the top location in the state for technology-related jobs. Pinellas County officials are courting SRI International, a Silicon Valley-based research institute that finds commercial applications for new technologies, according to the St. Petersburg Times. SRI is looking at the nanotechnology work that USF researchers have been doing at the university's Center for Ocean Technology.
? EarthWorks Environmental, which manufactures high-tech soil remediation equipment to clean up toxic spills, is moving from Sacramento, Calif., to downtown Clearwater.
? Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, a subsidiary of Cox Target Media, is building a manufacturing/printing facility in St. Petersburg's Gateway area to expand its production capabilities. The company, known for coupons mailed in a blue envelope, will close its production facilities in Largo and Elm City, N.C., when the new plant, housing 500 employees, opens some time in 2007, but will maintain administrative, customer services and graphics positions in its Largo office.
? Euro-Bake, a commercial bakery launched six years ago in St. Petersburg's Midtown, has recently opened an $8-million, 55,000-sq.-ft. facility that will allow the company to triple its production of bread products.
? Polyglass USA, an Italian company that manufactures self-adhering roofing material, is investing between $10 million and $15 million in a U.S. headquarters in Winter Haven in Polk County.
? AACSB International moved its headquarters from St. Louis to Tampa at the end of 2004. Formed in 1916 by 17 business schools, the non-profit accredits business schools and puts on professional development seminars around the world for the deans and professors of business schools.