February 28, 2021

Business Florida 2021 - The Regions

Tampa Bay

Citrus • Hernando • Hillsborough • Manatee • Pasco • Pinellas • Polk • Sarasota

| 10/30/2020

Education

University of South Florida — Tampa Bay’s largest university — ranked 2nd among Florida universities and 16th worldwide for patent production with 108 new U.S. utility patents in 2019. In March 2020, the university began construction on a three-story, $42-million research building at the USF Research Park. The 120,000-sq.-ft. building will house research labs and office space for researchers, high-tech startups and established firms. On U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Public Universities,” USF was among the top 50 nationwide for the second year in a row.

Tampa’s premier private university, the University of Tampa, offers more than 200 academic programs and is ranked No. 17 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Regional Universities South” and No. 8 among “Best Schools for Veterans.”

At Florida’s newest accredited university — Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland — construction continues. The 85,000-sq.-ft. Applied Research Center is scheduled to open in August 2021. Next up on Florida Poly’s master plan: a student achievement center.

Pasco County’s Saint Leo University was ranked No. 25 among U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Regional Universities South” and No. 14 among “Best Schools for Veterans.”

Florida Southern College — known for being home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture — is ranked No. 10 among southern regional universities by U.S. News & World Report. In Sarasota, New College of Florida is pairing up with the University of Florida beginning in early 2021 to offer an innovative five-year dual-degree program: Students earn a B.A. in liberal arts and sciences from New College during the first two years, then a B.S. in engineering from UF during the last three years.

 

Life & Leisure

Water Street Tampa, the 56-acre mixed use development being constructed in downtown Tampa, is the first neighborhood in the world to be certified as a WELL community by the New York-based WELL Building Institute. Designed with a focus on walkability, sustainability, resiliency, connectivity and innovation, Water Street aims to promote healthy living by providing easy access to fresh foods and drinking water, creating sidewalks and streets that prioritize pedestrians and alternative forms of transportation and making air quality monitoring data readily accessible. The first phase, which is currently under construction, consists of 4.5 million square feet of new office, hotel, retail and residential space across 12 individual buildings; estimated completion: late 2021. Full buildout at Water Street Tampa is anticipated around 2027.

Three beaches along Tampa Bay’s Gulf coast once again dominate TripAdvisor’s 2020 “Best Beaches, U.S.” list; they’ve just switched positions in the ranking. Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota moved up from No. 6 last year to claim the top spot in 2020. Just up the road and not to be outdone, St. Pete Beach, last year’s No. 4 best beach, moved up to No. 2. And last but not least, Clearwater Beach, which took top honors last year, slipped to No. 5. Incidentally, Siesta Beach and St. Pete Beach were also listed on TripAdvisor’s 2020 “Best Beaches, World” list of the top 25 beaches worldwide at No. 11 and No.16 respectively, the only U.S. beaches to make the international cut.

The 24.5 million tourists who visited Tampa Bay in 2019 can’t be wrong. Nor can WalletHub which, in 2020, ranks Tampa the No. 3 best place for a “staycation.” When you live here, every day’s a mini-vacation, so if you haven’t explored Tampa Bay, do it now. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find: Tampa’s Riverwalk, which takes you past four must-see destinations — Glazer Children’s Museum, the Tampa Art Museum, the Florida Aquarium (marking its 25th anniversary in 2020), and the Tampa Bay History Center; Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to the stars of “A Dolphin’s Tale,” Winter and Hope; the newly opened St. Pete Pier; The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art; The Dali (world’s largest collection of Salvador Dali’s art); The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton; The Ringling complex of museums in Sarasota; Busch Gardens, LEGOLAND and Dinosaur World; Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (swim with manatees!); Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, where real-live mermaids perform underwater; and the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in Lakeland. And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, there are seasonal options too, like spring training baseball — the Blue Jays, Braves, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Tigers and Yankees all play here — plus beaches galore to enjoy year-round.

It took two decades of public debate and more than seven years of planning and construction, but St. Pete finally has a downtown pier again. The new $92-million structure along the waterfront opened to great fanfare in July 2020 along with its 26-acre pier district featuring a pavilion on Spa Beach, splash pads, a Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille, the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, a fishing deck, retail shops, green spaces and several pieces of public art. The new structure replaces an inverted pyramid-themed pier, which opened in 1973 and closed in 2013 after years of decline. The site has been home to a pier of one kind or another since the late 1800s.

Tags: Tampa Bay, Business Florida

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