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October 4, 2015

Economic Yearbook 2008

TAMPA BAY: Battling a Misperception

Art Levy | 4/1/2008

16% — Percentage of St. Petersburg workers employed in finance, insurance and real estate
12.3 — Percentage of St. Petersburg workers employed in health services
9.5% — Percentage of St. Petersburg workers employed in manufacturing
3.1% — Unemployment rate

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


» St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker keeps championing the city’s economic potential. Midtown will be a focus this year, with construction expected to start on the 166,000-sq.-ft., $31-million Job Corps Center.

Peter Betzer
(St. Petersburg)
Peter Betzer

» Peter Betzer, the one-time dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, is the new president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership. Betzer helped bring SRI International to St. Petersburg, and he hopes to play a role this year in attracting other research firms to the city. Another priority, he says, is working with Pinellas County school officials to create affordable housing for teachers. One idea he has is building faculty housing on vacant school district land.
[Photo: Mark Wemple]



Home sales
(median price)
Condo sales
(median price)
2006 5,160 ($176,200) 272 ($117,900)
2007 3,340 ($168,900) 170 ($126,700)
Source: Florida Association of Realtors and the University of Florida Real Estate Research Center
Industrial development continues to lift Polk County’s economy. In 2007, Eastern Metal Supply moved into a new 160,000-sq.-ft. facility on Drane Field Road. The Pepsi Bottling Group signed a lease for 109,200 square feet in the Interstate Commerce Park. Sun Publications has opened a 37,635-sq.-ft. headquarters and manufacturing facility at FirstPark@Bridgewater.

“Because residential is in the tank, everyone assumes it’s that way across the board, that it’s translating into office, commercial and industrial,” says Claudia Tritton, head of real estate and prospect development at the Lakeland Economic Development Council. “But that hasn’t been the case for us.”

On the housing side, permits are down, from 8,070 in 2005 to 1,991 in 2007, says Tom Patton, executive director of the Central Florida Development Council of Polk County. “That’s huge,” he says. “But while the residential impact has fallen off, our commercial impact continues to grow, and our tourism is up 58% in the last five years.”


» Polk leaders want 2008 to be the year that the state starts allocating money to start construction on the proposed USF-Lakeland campus. Headed up by Marshall Goodman, the “polytechnic” would be a “catalyst for high-tech growth for decades to come,” says Jim DeGennaro, a senior business development representative for the Central Florida Development Council of Polk County. The facility, proposed for the intersection of Interstate 4 and the Polk Parkway, already has $10 million in commitments from Lakeland and Polk County, but it still needs millions more in state funding. State Sen. J.D. Alexander, a Winter Haven Republican, is leading that charge. “That’s our big push this year,” Tritton says. “We’re really focusing on that campus.”

Tags: Tampa Bay

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