October 30, 2014

Community Portrait

Tampa & Hillsborough County

More than just gathering data, we're trying to capture elements that make each community distinctive.

» Why I Live Here: Jason Busto

Jason Busto
Jason Busto

Every morning I go to Ashley Espresso for eggs, toast and a triple espresso with room-temp milk, and every morning I leave there smarter than when I went in. Each day Tampa people from every walk of life share their ideas about the issues of the day, local news and their lives. In the process, they share themselves, and the best part is they love Tampa and are ready to work to make it better.

I am a fifth-generation Tampa native, but I have also lived in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Madrid, Hong Kong and Moscow. I left home for college and returned a decade later to spend time with my mom before she passed away. I was 27, unsure about how best to assign myself. I decided to stay in Tampa because I’d heard the expression, “bloom where you’re planted,” and it made sense to me.

Tampa is a young city blessed with a dynamic population and diverse regional economy. It also has a unique history as one of America’s great melting pots with longstanding commercial and cultural ties to southern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. While it has no Fortune 500 headquarters, Hillsborough County boasts more millionaires per capita than any other county in Florida.

Moving forward, Tampa and the region stand to gain by promoting regional economic cooperation; establishing mass transit within the entire seven-county region; implementing urban zoning and land-use reforms with realistic densities; protecting historic structures and our city’s park culture; and rebuilding our historic ties with Cuba, Latin America and Europe.

As I write from my balcony above Bayshore Boulevard, I see so much potential in all directions. In many ways potential is Tampa’s personality — people here are blooming where they found themselves planted.

Jason Busto, 38, born in Tampa in 1970, is vice president, administration and finance for Grupo Busto Hill and has served as COO for Busto Plumbing, a commercial contracting firm. Active in civic issues, he’s sometimes called the “unofficial mayor” of West Tampa.

» A Competitor’s View

Florida Trend asked an economic development professional in a market that competes with Tampa to assess Tampa’s strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths: “The Tampa market is rich and diverse. It has a wide variety of assets and quality-of-life elements ... including an image as a dynamic city. It has a great airport. The Westshore area is dynamic, and the area as a whole presents many real estate growth options. The Tampa Bay Partnership has been a real strength toward solving issues relating to water and other things.”

Weaknesses: “The area struggles sometimes because it’s difficult to get things done in Tampa and Hillsborough County ... difficult to reach consensus around issues, so they can’t get things done that they should get done. Another real challenge is traffic and traffic infrastructure. That makes it an easier place to compete with.”

Tags: Tampa Bay

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