Tampa Bay: Research Reigns
Growing technology cluster draws R & D facilities to economical, accessible Tampa Bay region.
USF Polytechnic students enjoy one-on-one attention. [Photo: Joseph Gamble]
With more than 45,000 students at campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland, and with $300 million in annual sponsored research funding, the University of South Florida is an economic powerhouse for Tampa Bay.
At USF’s new Center of Excellence for Biomolecular Identification and Targeted Therapeutics, more than 80 faculty from 22 departments collaborate on joint multidisciplinary projects.
In Polk County, USF’s Lakeland campus is Florida’s first polytechnic university. USF Polytechnic “is an affirmation of USF’s commitment to principles of access and excellence in public higher education, and it recognizes the strong regional campus model we are building,” says USF President Judy Genshaft.
Meanwhile, at St. Petersburg College, enrollment was up by 10% in fall 2008. Founded as a junior college, SPC today offers 2- and 4-year degrees to 63,000 students. New in 2008: bachelor degree programs in educational services, health services administration and management and organizational leadership.
Hillsborough Community College offers 150 associate degree and certificate programs to 42,000 students. At its newest campus — HCC SouthShore — a partnership program with Saint Leo and Webster universities allows students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Ripe for Expansion: With urban centers just minutes away via the Suncoast Parkway and I-75 and plenty of low-cost land available, Pasco is ideally situated for business expansion.
One success story is The LeverEdge, a distributor of solar water heating, solar pool heating and water purification systems. The company is building an $8.4-million, 94,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility in Odessa on a 10-acre site. Co-owner Robert Schabes praises officials with Pasco County Economic Development Council for their help.
American Body Company built a new, 80,000-square-foot plant on a 20-acre site in the North Suncoast Industrial Park. At the park located near the Suncoast Parkway and State Road 54 — one of several major east-west roads in Pasco — the company’s 100 employees manufacture truck bodies for delivery fleets.
Development plans have been filed with Pasco County for a $31.5-million sports and entertainment complex in Wesley Chapel. The proposed 288,000-square-foot SportsPlex USA would be roughly twice the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and built on 22 acres of land at Old Pasco Road and County Road 54, near the newly opened Grove at Wesley Chapel mixed-use development.