by Janet Ware
Updated 5 yearss ago
St. Petersburg boasts the world’s first installation of Dale Chihuly’s art in a setting designed specifically for that purpose.
Vibrant downtowns and suburban office districts, superior educational and research facilities, and multiple airports and seaports providing ready access to the global economy make the eight-county Tampa Bay region an attractive choice for business relocation and expansion. The 14th largest consumer market in the country, Tampa Bay has a quality of life worth boasting about — miles of white sandy beaches along the Gulf of Mexico; tree-lined blocks of single-family homes juxtaposed against ultra-modern, high- rise condos; acres of open space, inland lakes, golf courses and parks; professional football, baseball and hockey teams; and a rapidly expanding arts and culture scene that is snagging international attention.
Demographics for the Tampa Bay Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.
• Clearwater Christian College
• Eckerd College
• Florida College
• Florida Southern College
• Hillsborough Community ? ? College
• New College of Florida
• Pasco-Hernando ? ? Community College
• Polk State College
• Ringling College of Art ? ? and Design
• Saint Leo University
• St. Petersburg College
• Southeastern University
• State College of Florida,
? ? Manatee-Sarasota
• University of South Florida
• University of Tampa
• Warner University
• Webber International University
• Port Manatee
• Port of St. Petersburg
• Port of Tampa
Urban arts renaissance
Along the Hillsborough River, Tampa’s Riverwalk meanders past waterfront parks, the main library, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the new Tampa Art Museum, the new Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa Convention Center and the Tampa Bay History Center, as it makes its way to Channelside, home to trendy shops, restaurants and nightlife as well as Tampa’s busy cruise port, The Florida Aquarium and the historic American Victory Ship and Museum.
Along downtown streets in St. Petersburg, the arts are everywhere — in private galleries, the newly expanded Museum of Fine Arts, the renowned Salvador Dali Museum (an enlarged version of which is scheduled to open in a new downtown location in January 2011) and, most recently, “The Chihuly Collection,” the only permanent, museum-quality collection in the world of Dale Chihuly’s exquisite glass sculptures, displayed in a magnificent 10,000-square-foot setting designed by award-winning architect Albert Alfonso. Is it any wonder, then, that AmericanStyle magazine put St. Petersburg in the No. 1 position on its “Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Art”?
Other cities in Florida’s Tampa Bay region lay claim to artistic fame. Sarasota, which is home to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art as well as the Ringling College of Art and Design and numerous private galleries and festivals featuring the work of local and regional artists, ranked No. 5 on AmericanStyle’s list of “Top 25 Small Cities for Art.” In Bradenton, the “Village of the Arts” is a funky collection of more than 35 galleries, studios, cafes and shops. And in Polk County, the world’s largest collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a single site can be seen on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
Life sciences on the move
Medical manufacturing is big business in the Tampa Bay region, where more than 320 companies whose primary business is medical devices or components employ upwards of 5,600 people with a total payroll of $274.8 million. Developments in this cluster include: MicroLumen Inc., manufacturer of medical tubing products, is building a 60,000-square-foot headquarters facility at the Brooker Creek Corporate Center in Oldsmar and plans to add six employees over the next year and another 40 within three years for a total of 100 employees by 2014.
This region’s educational assets include the University of Tampa, ranked among the Southeast’s best business schools by The Princeton Review. [Photo: The University of Tampa]
In April 2010, Colorado-based Pico Tesla Magnetic Therapies LLC, which provides personalized electro-magnetic treatment regimens for various chronic diseases, opened a 4,000-square-foot office in Clearwater that will serve as the firm’s East Coast headquarters. The central Pinellas County location near St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport will enable Pico-Tesla to accelerate enrollment in ongoing clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes.
Oscor Inc., manufacturer of pacemaker components, will expand its operations in Palm Harbor by the end of 2010, adding 20,000 square feet and 70 new high-wage jobs to accommodate the company’s plans to conduct research for new medical devices, including a new line of interventional coronary and peripheral vascular diagnostic catheters.
Growing high-tech cluster
SRI International officially opened its new 37,000-square-foot marine technology research facility on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg in December 2009. Housing approximately 100 researchers and staff, the facility is devoted to cutting-edge R&D in marine science and technology with the goal of finding commercial applications for port security, algae blooms, aquaculture and other marine challenges. California-based SRI chose St. Petersburg in order to be near the renowned College of Marine Science and Center for Ocean Technology at the University of South Florida (USF).
Cambridge, Mass.-based Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc. opened two facilities in the region in November 2009 — a BioMEMS R&D Center at USF in Tampa and a Multichip Module Center in St. Petersburg — and engineers, researchers, technicians, administrators and support staff are being hired as needed. To date, 30 of the total anticipated 165 available positions have been filled.
Getting in, getting around
A 2009 study by the Tampa Bay Partnership, the regional economic development organization representing Tampa Bay’s eight counties, reveals that 394 foreign-owned companies have 824 locations in the region, of which 135 are U.S. headquarters. Collectively, they employ more than 37,000 workers and have sales of $13.6 billion. Multi-modal transportation connections are among the assets that bring international firms to Tampa Bay.
Three deepwater ports — Port Manatee, Port of St. Petersburg and Port of Tampa — keep people and cargo flowing smoothly into and out of the region. The Port of Tampa has completed an expansion of its cargo terminal from 25 to 40 acres and a $390-million construction project to connect the main access point with Interstates 4 and 75 is slated for completion in 2013 to coincide with the increased port activity expected as a result of Panama Canal expansion. At Port Manatee — closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the Panama Canal — Berth 12 and its adjacent channel have been newly enlarged to accommodate Panamax-sized vessels.
Close to 17 million passengers and more than 175 million pounds of cargo passed through this region’s busiest commercial airport — Tampa International — in 2009. In addition, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International and Sarasota Bradenton International connect Tampa Bay to dozens of international and domestic destinations. Projects under way at Inverness and Crystal River airports in Citrus County to improve lighting and lengthen runways are aimed at accommodating small corporate jets.
Ridin’ the rails
The dream of high-speed, intercity passenger rail in Florida will soon be reality thanks, in part, to a $1.25- billion grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The money, awarded to Florida in early 2010, will be used to initiate service between Tampa and Orlando along 84 miles of new track laid in the median of I-4 and along the Beachline Expressway. The proposed bullet train will carry riders on 16 round trips between the two cities per day of approximately one hour each at speeds reaching 168 miles per hour. Completion is anticipated in 2014. A second phase — high-speed rail between Orlando and Miami — could be completed as early as 2017.
Also under consideration in the region: a light rail system linking downtown Tampa to Tampa International Airport, USF’s main campus and northern Hillsborough County.
Mid-sized manufacturers are finding success in Tampa Bay, too.
Swiss cigar importer Oettinger Davidoff chose an existing facility in Pinellas Park for its U.S. headquarters for two reasons: Tampa Bay’s rich tradition in the cigar industry and the ready availability of the right site. Oettinger Davidoff tobacco products are rolled by workers at plants in?the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The company’s newly acquired 100,000-square-foot site in Florida will serve as a combination corporate headquarters, warehouse and distribution center; plans call for hiring 90 workers at average annual wages of $55,000.
Tampa’s cigar making history drew Oettinger Davidoff.
Micro Matic, the Danish manufacturer of beverage dispensing equipment, plans to add 32,000 square feet to its existing 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the Hernando County Corporate Airpark in Brooksville. The expansion will allow Micro Matic USA to consolidate its Florida, Nevada and California operations under one roof and increase its staff by 20 over the next two years.
Mustang Vacuum Systems will?add 125 jobs over the next three years at its new 50,000-square-foot facility in the Sarasota Commerce Center. The company, which specializes in the production of the thin coating material used on everything from eyeglasses to the tops of vacuum cleaners, received a $184,000 grant from the State College of Florida and the Manatee Economic Development Council?to train the new employees, including welders, IT specialists, electricians, scientists and others.
Cellyne, manufacturer of household paper products, has added new machinery at its Haines City headquarters in Polk County to meet increased demand for its products; 25 new jobs will be created as a result.