Innovative companies seeking a prosperous “neighborhood” will find plenty to like about Tampa Bay. Nineteen billion-dollar companies — seven of them on the Fortune 1000 list — already maintain corporate headquarters in this eight-county region. As 14th largest consumer market in the U.S., Tampa Bay offers a diverse talent base supported by nearly 20 colleges and universities, including the University of South Florida System (USF), which for two years in a row has ranked in the top 10 worldwide for universities granted U.S. patents.
Multiple airports and seaports, including the Port of Tampa — Florida’s largest by cargo tonnage and acreage — provide ready access to global markets. And with three contiguous MSAs — Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton and Lakeland-Winter Haven — plus coastal beaches, vibrant downtowns, an arts and culture scene that has garnered international acclaim and plenty of wide-open inland space, Tampa Bay is a microcosm of the best that Florida has to offer.
WHO LIVES HERE
Tampa Bay’s population — 4.3 million in 2011 — has grown by close to 685,000 since the year 2000 and shows no signs of stopping. Projections are for an estimated 60,000 new residents each year from now through 2015.
Young, diverse, creative
20% of Tampa Bay residents are in the 18-34 age group, and an estimated 15% of the total population is Hispanic — good news for companies seeking young, culturally diverse workers. Many are drawn to Ybor City, Tampa’s historic cigar district, where firms engaged in such creative activities as advertising, software development and video production have clustered alongside restaurants, clubs and condos.
Thriving female entrepreneurs
Forbes magazine ranked Tampa No. 6 on its 2011 list of the “Top 20 Cities for Women in Business.” One reason, says Forbes: Women-led businesses in Tampa received more than $19 million in SBA-backed loans in 2010.
• Approximately 11% of Tampa Bay’s workforce is employed in the medical technologies and services industry. Top-rated healthcare facilities include nationally recognized Tampa General Hospital ranked among the top 50 by U.S.News & World Report in nine specialties, and H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, ranked No. 22 nationwide for cancer care.
• University of South Florida’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in downtown Tampa is expected to draw thousands of medical personnel annually for hands-on training using high-tech simulators. The 90,000 square feet of classrooms, laboratories, exam rooms and fully equipped operating suites allows undergraduates as well as seasoned professionals to practice the newest surgical techniques without actually touching a patient.
Nearly one in four of Florida’s business and information services firms has a home in Tampa Bay. The region is especially strong in call centers, and many are expanding:
• Protocol Global Solutions plans to roughly double its 400-person operation in Sarasota to serve new clients.
• OneTouch Direct says it will keep its corporate headquarters in Tampa and add 700 jobs over the next two years.
• Auto insurance giant Progressive Insurance will hire another 130 workers at its Riverview site, bringing the firm’s Tampa Bay workforce to 2,500.
• Maryland-based Inovalon Inc., which primarily serves health insurers and their subscribers, will open a multilingual call center in Tampa and hire 50 to staff it.
• Tampa-based Sykes Enterprises plans to open a new customer service call center in Lakeland and generate 600 new jobs.
Medical Device Manufacturing
Tampa Bay is among the top 20 markets nationwide for medical device manufacturing. Recent activity includes:
• Rapid Pathogen Screening, a Lakewood Ranch-based manufacturer of diagnostic test kits for viral conjunctivitis and other illnesses, plans to add 164 employees as products currently under development receive FDA approval.
• Sarasota-based Octex, providing plastic injection molding services for medical manufacturing, will add 80 jobs over the next five years.
Manufacturers in other industry sectors are also finding room to grow in Tampa Bay:
• Bradenton is welcoming two relocations: Ammunitions maker C Products Defense Inc. from Connecticut with plans to add 100 employees and IPE CLIP Fastener Company from South Carolina, creating 80 new jobs.
• In Palmetto, UK-based plastic component manufacturer Global Components Inc. plans to open a manufacturing hub and create 50 new jobs.
• At Lakewood Ranch, international firm IRISS, which makes infrared windows for inspecting electrical equipment, is building a 33,000-sq.-ft. global headquarters.
• In Sarasota, Sun Hydraulics, designer/manufacturer of high-performance hydraulic cartridge valves and manifolds, plans a $16-million expansion of its manufacturing and office space.
• Three ports serve the region — Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee — and the newly formed Citrus County Port Authority is exploring the possibility of creating Florida’s 15th deepwater port along a stretch of the old Cross Florida Barge Canal.
• Exceptional rail and highway connections are making land-locked Polk County a hub for distribution activity. Polk-based Publix Super Markets is nearly doubling the size of its 590,000-sq.-ft. distribution center, and Texas-based Mission Foods is expected to spend $23 million to open a 168,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Lakeland.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Lights, camera, action
Hollywood has discovered Pinellas County’s appeal as a movie set. First came Dolphin Tale, based on the real-life story of Winter, the injured dolphin outfitted with a prosthetic tail. Grossing more than $83 million at the box office, the film helped triple attendance and spark a $12-million expansion at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Other film projects in Pinellas: Magic Mike, Spring Breakers and Sunlight Jr. Elsewhere in Tampa Bay, the Sarasota Film Festival, now in its 14th year, has drawn attention to Sarasota as a location for independent films and television productions.
Arts on top again
Tampa Bay once again swept AmericanStyle magazine’s annual rankings of U.S. top arts destinations. For the third consecutive year, St. Petersburg topped the list of “mid-size cities” for its stunning new Salvador Dali Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Chihuly Collection and Central Avenue art gallery district; Tampa tied for the No. 2 spot with its revitalized Tampa Museum of Art and a special exhibit of Japanese art at the University of Tampa’s Henry B. Plant Museum. Two more Tampa Bay cities were again named “Top 25 Small Cities for Art”: Sarasota, site of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Ringling College of Art and Design, was No. 1, up from No. 5 a year ago, and Bradenton, known for its gallery- and studio-laden “Village of the Arts,” rose from 10th place to No. 2.
In 2012, Florida Southern College in Lakeland, home to the world’s largest collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a single site, was designated a National Historic Landmark.
Cancer research firm IRX Therapeutics will relocate operations from New York to St. Petersburg by the end of 2012, bringing 40 jobs and the potential for 240 more within five years. The firm’s lead product IRX-2, an immunotherapy for treating cancer, is an outgrowth of technology the firm developed at the University of South Florida more than a decade ago.
Motion picture/publishing titan Time Warner plans to invest $5 million and create 500 new jobs in Hillsborough County over the next five years at a shared services center that will provide human resource, payroll and technology support to the rest of the company. The facility is expected to open in late 2013.
• Florida’s Natural Growers - Lake Wales
• Tropicana Products Inc. - Bradenton
• BayCare Health System - Clearwater
• Humana Inc. (Medicare operations) - Tampa
• Lincare Holdings Inc. - Clearwater
• WellCare Health Plans Inc. - Tampa
• Home Shopping Network - St. Petersburg
• Publix Super Markets - Lakeland
• Tech Data Corp. - Clearwater
• JPMorgan Chase - Tampa
• Mortgage Investors Corp. - St. Petersburg
• Raymond James Financial - St. Petersburg
• Busch Gardens - Tampa
• OSI Restaurant Partners - Tampa
• Gerdau Ameristeel Corp. - Tampa
• Jabil Circuit Inc. - St. Petersburg
• Roper Industries Inc. - Sarasota