April 12, 2024

Business Florida 2012 - The Regions

Tampa Bay

Bradenton, Clearwater, Lakeland, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa

Janet Ware | 10/10/2011
Tampa Bay skyline
Strategically sited where the Hillsborough River meets Tampa Bay, downtown Tampa is a focal point for economic activity in this region. [Photo: Timothy Healy]

Nineteen billion-dollar companies — four of them on the Fortune 500 list — have sited their corporate headquarters in Tampa Bay. And no wonder. As 14th largest consumer market in the U.S., this eight-county region offers a diverse talent base supported by the University of South Florida (USF), one of the nation's fastest growing research universities. Multiple airports and seaports, including the Port of Tampa — Florida's largest by cargo tonnage and acreage — provide easy access to global markets; a growing arts and culture scene is garnering international acclaim. And with three contiguous MSAs — Tampa- St. Petersburg-Clearwater, North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton and Lakeland-Winter Haven — plus coastal beaches, urban amenities and plenty of wide open inland space, Tampa Bay is a microcosm of the best that Florida has to offer.

Who Lives Here

Magnet for growth: At 4.2 million in 2010, Tampa Bay's population grew by more than 22% over the last decade, primarily due to in-migration from other states; projections of 60,000 new residents per year show Tampa Bay growing another 8% by 2015.

Young, diverse, creative: Close to 20% of residents are in the18-34 age group and 14% of the total population is Hispanic — good news for vibrant companies seeking youthful and culturally diverse workers. Many are drawn to Ybor City, Tampa's historic cigar district, where firms engaged in creative activities like advertising, software development, industrial design and video production are clustering alongside restaurants, clubs and condos.

downtown Sarasota
Trendy sidewalk cafes beckon diners along downtown Sarasota streets. [Photo: Bill Speer]

Economic Life


» Cambridge, Mass.-based Draper Laboratory is doubling its research space at USF Research Park and adding 50 positions. Reason: to better collaborate with USF researchers on fighting malaria and creating new tools to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder.

» Researchers from the marine technology program at SRI International in St. Petersburg have played a pivotal role in assessing effects of the 2010 oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem. A mass spectrometer developed by SRI is being used to monitor the presence of hydrocarbons associated with oil in Gulf waters. Founded in 2007, the marine technology program is a collaboration between SRI and USF's renowned College of Marine Science.

Financial/Professional Services

» Nearly one in four of Florida's business and information services has found a home in Tampa Bay. Joining this sector in fall 2011 is StreetLinks Lender Solutions. The Indianapolis-based real estate appraisal management services provider will invest nearly $2 million to open a 36,000-sq.-ft. office in Tampa and, over the next two years, add 250 jobs.


» Tampa Bay ranks in the top 20 nationwide for medical device manufacturing clusters; this industry, which directly employs 10,000 and produces more than $2 billion in goods and services, is growing. For example, Aso, a global leader in the manufacture/distribution of adhesive bandages and other wound care products, is expanding in Sarasota County for the fourth time since 1991. The relocation of its Millennium Coating subsidiary will mean two additions: a 23,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing plant and 50 new jobs.


In 2010, Tampa Bay garnered $3 billion in revenue from an estimated 17 million visitors; recent developments bode well for continued growth:

Florida's newest theme park — Legoland Florida in Winter Haven — offers rides, shows and hands-on model building challenges for all ages.

» In October 2011, Norwegian will become the 4th passenger cruise line to homeport in Tampa, joining Carnival, Holland America and Royal Caribbean, which in 2010 carried a combined 802,775 passengers to the western Caribbean.

» Non-stop, round-trip flights between Tampa and Havana — the first in 50 years — are slated to begin in fall 2011, a boon to the more than 80,000 Cuban-Americans who live in the Tampa Bay region.

Tampa Bay, Florida: At A Glance
Regional Assets

Tampa Bay, Florida
Demographics for the Northwest Region can be found at Business Florida's interactive map of Florida.

• St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport
• Sarasota Bradenton International Airport
• Tampa International Airport
• Port Manatee
• Port of St. Petersburg
• Port of Tampa

• 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

Next page: Tampa Bay's quality of life and notable employers

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