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July 18, 2018

Business Florida 2018 - The Regions

Affordable and Appealing

| 9/22/2017

Tampa Bay

LIFE & LEISURE

Beaches to brag about
To boast that Tampa Bay has some of the best beaches anywhere is verifiable fact. Siesta Beach, south of Sarasota, is ranked No. 1 on TripAdvisor’s “2017 Top 25 Beaches, U.S.,” and close on its heels are St. Pete Beach at No. 3 and Clearwater Beach at No. 4. And by the way, Siesta Beach is both No. 5 on TripAdvisor’s “2017 Top 25 World Beaches” (the only U.S. beach to make that list) and No. 1 on Stephen Leatherman’s (aka “Dr. Beach”) list of America’s 10 best beaches, which also includes Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater at No. 7.

Another “lazy” aftenoon along Clearwater Beach

Military might
The location of MacDill Air Force Base at the tip of a largely residential peninsula jutting out into Hillsborough Bay makes it easy to forget that this is a military town, and a mighty influential one at that. MacDill hosts the U.S. Central Command, responsible for security in 25 nations; the U.S. Special Operations Command, charged with overseeing the global war on terrorism; and the 6th Air Military Wing, which refuels military aircraft worldwide; not to mention almost 19,000 military and civilian personnel. Its economic impact on the region comes to nearly $5 billion annually.

Batter up!
The city of North Port in south Sarasota County is close to finalizing a deal to bring Atlanta Braves spring training baseball to a 70-acre site near the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota campus. Groundbreaking for the $75- to $80-million complex that will include an 8,000-seat stadium, practice facilities and public multi-use fields is expected in fall 2017 with completion to follow by February 2019.

Presenting: Water Street Tampa
The $3-billion, mixed-use redevelopment project planned for downtown Tampa’s Channel District — Water Street Tampa – will encompass more than 9 million square feet of new development on 50 contiguous acres, including 3,500 residential units, more than 800 hotel rooms and the University of South Florida’s Morsani School of Medicine. Phase 1, consisting of concurrent vertical construction on 18 buildings spanning 10 city blocks, will begin in early 2018 and is scheduled for completion by 2021.

A+ educational choices
Tampa Bay is home to 20 colleges and universities, the largest of which is the University of South Florida, serving more than 49,000 students across campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee. Here, too, is Florida’s newest regionally accredited university, Florida Polytechnic, and Florida Southern College with the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture; both are in Lakeland. High schools in this region are worth bragging about too: four earned gold medals in U.S. News & World Report’s “2017 Best High Schools” rankings, including Pine View School in Osprey, which at No. 13, was ranked the highest of all Florida high schools.

Welcome home
Located midway between Tampa and Orlando, location is today Polk County’s greatest asset. The county has become a distribution hub with an integrated logistics center and warehouse space for tenants like Amazon and Walmart. And with 500+ lakes, Detroit Tiger baseball each spring and attractions like Legoland Florida and the annual SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In Expo, it’s a pretty great place to live.

Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland in Polk County

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