Economic yearbook 2009
Still seeing strength in manufacturing and life science.
"We weren’t hit as much by the construction downturn. We don’t have all our eggs in one basket." — Mike Meidel, economic development director for Pinellas County
Tampa / Hillsborough County
|See population, income and job statistics from this region.
Hillsborough County, with the area’s lowest unemployment rate at 9.1%, is faring better than most of the Tampa Bay region. “We are continuing to be contacted by companies. We have companies that are continuing to expand in the region,” says Keith A. Norden, executive managing director of the Committee of 100 of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
Gene Gray, economic development director for Hillsborough County, is cautiously optimistic but warns that many projects now in the pipeline have been in the works since before the full force of the recession took hold — unless the economy turns around, the economic development pipeline could dry up six or eight months from now, he says, adding, “2009 is going to continue to be a difficult year.”
Still, Gray sees strength in relocations and expansions in the manufacturing and life sciences sector. Cambridge, Mass.-based Draper Laboratory is setting up a high-profile nanotechnology research and development facility at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The operation, called BioMEMS, will develop tiny medical devices for medical diagnostics and therapies. Draper also has a facility in Pinellas County.
Rogel agrees that health-related industries are a bright spot for the region. But he remains concerned about the availability of financing for projects. “I’m sure a lot of people are just parking their dollars.”
Mike Meidel heads Pinellas County’s economic development office. St. Petersburg’s scarcity of buildable space during the condo boom has turned out to be a silver lining. [Photo: Mark Wemple]