September 27, 2020

Business Florida 2019 - The Regions

Growing the Future

| 10/24/2018

Tampa Bay is at the epicenter of medical innovation and cutting-edge patient care. Some 14% of Florida’s biotech companies and 22% of its pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing workforce call this region home. A long-standing success story here is WellCare Health Plans. Founded in Tampa more than 30 years ago, WellCare provides government-sponsored managed-care services to some 4.4 million members nationwide. In September 2018, WellCare acquired Michigan-based Meridian Health Plans and, as a result, has become Tampa Bay’s biggest company by market value.

Over the last five years, significant developments across this sector testify to its growing strength in Tampa Bay. Bristol-Myers Squibb got the ball rolling in 2014 with the opening of its North American Capability Center in Tampa and, within a year, Johnson & Johnson announced plans to establish a global services center here too. That facility, which opened in 2016 with 240 employees, is on track to add another 300 employees by 2020. On the heels of these developments have come Aimmune Therapeutics, which in 2017 established a manufacturing facility in Clearwater for the development of biopharmaceuticals to treat life-threatening food allergies, and Amgen, which in February 2018 opened a capability center for drug research and testing in Tampa.

Job opportunities in the life sciences sector are on the rise too. Greenway Health, an IT vendor of integrated electronic health records and management solutions for health care practices nationwide, and Corin USA, an orthopedic device manufacturer, have announced plans to add 100 jobs each at their Tampa-based headquarters.

Tampa Bay’s thriving health care sector includes an education component. In 2012, the University of South Florida opened CAMLS — Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation — in downtown Tampa to provide state-of-the-art, hands-on learning opportunities for practicing physicians and medical students. Nearby, USF is constructing a medical school in close proximity to its teaching partner, Tampa General Hospital. USF Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute is scheduled to open in its downtown location by early 2020.

And coming soon to Clearwater: The Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine as part of Nova Southeastern University’s new Tampa Bay Regional Campus. Construction of the complex began in spring 2018. Anticipated opening date: summer 2019.

Also worth noting is this region’s excellence in patient care. Two Tampa Bay hospitals are listed among the nation’s top 50 according to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2018-19.” Moffitt Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, was cited as No. 8 for cancer care and No. 40 for gynecology. Tampa General Hospital was named Florida’s No. 2 hospital and earned accolades in six specialties.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg earned top 50 rankings on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals 2018-19” list in five specialties.

2017 was a good year for tourism on both sides of Tampa Bay. Hillsborough County’s tourism tax revenue jumped 8% over 2016 for a total of $32.3 million. Pinellas County fared even better with collections of more than $56 million, up 8.5% from the previous year. Helping to fuel these increases was the combination of a long winter storm season in the north and thousands of Clemson and Alabama fans drawn to Tampa for the college football national championship game.

Thanks to a host of new attractions, 2018 looks promising tourist-wise too. Recently opened are the new James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art in St. Petersburg and the nation’s first Crystal Lagoon in Wesley Chapel. Coming soon are three hotels on Clearwater Beach; a virtual reality roller coaster and a second hotel at LEGOLAND Florida; and $6 million in upgrades for ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

To say that Tampa Bay beaches are America’s best is no exaggeration; it’s fact. Clearwater Beach took the top prize on TripAdvisor’s “2018 Top 25 Beaches, U.S.” and ranked 7th worldwide (the only U.S. beach to make its international list). Also earning spots on TripAdvisor’s U.S. list: Siesta Beach just south of Sarasota at No. 2 and St. Pete Beach at No. 7. A fourth Tampa Bay beach — Caladesi Island State Park in Dunedin/Clearwater — snagged the No. 7 spot on Stephen Leatherman’s (aka “Dr. Beach”) 2018 list of America’s 10 best beaches for the second year in a row. And for swimmers who value safety over sand, another win: Manatee County’s 15-member lifeguard team, which oversaw more than 2.7 million beachgoers in 2017, was named “Beach Patrol of the Year” by the Florida Beach Patrol Chiefs Association.

Elsewhere in the region, work continues in North Port on a spring training facility for the Atlanta Braves. The project, which includes a 6,200-seat stadium, a 360-degree concourse walkway, luxury suites, six full- and two half-sized practice fields and 750 parking spaces, is on track to host the Braves’ final spring training game in 2019. Coincidentally, North Port and neighboring Sarasota were among the nation’s top 50 best small cities to start a business, according to a recent report from Verizon.

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