What’s not to like about Tampa Bay? Hardly anything, according to WalletHub, which gives this region high marks on everything from “Best Large Cities to Start a Business” (Tampa, No. 10); and conversely “Best Places to Retire” (Tampa, No. 4). Among large cities, Tampa is the No. 1 “Best Place for First-Time Homeowners” and No. 14 overall. And if you decide to move here, do bring your furry friends – Tampa is America’s No. 1 “Most Pet Friendly” city. No doubt about it, Florida’s second most populated region is a great place to live and work. With seamless connections, a thriving job market, outstanding educational options and plenty of things to see and do, Tampa Bay is the right place to settle down and settle in.
Tampa Bay is home to 20 corporate headquarters, five of which have been named to the Fortune 500 list for 2021: Publix Super Markets (No. 69); Jabil (No. 104); Mosaic (No. 346); Raymond James Financial (No. 367); and Roper Technologies (No. 488).
Among recent activities in this sector:
• Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets celebrated its 90th anniversary in September 2020 and a year later announced plans to expand into Kentucky, its eighth Southeastern state. Expected to open in late 2023, the 55,702-sq.-ft. store in Louisville will join the more than 1,280 Publix stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia.
• St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial valued its client assets at more than $1 trillion for the third straight quarter in July 2021.
• Tampa-based staffing agency Kforce has announced plans to move its headquarters out of Ybor City and into Midtown Tampa, where it will operate “an office occasional” work model” aimed at providing an optimal life-work balance for its 600 Tampa-based employees.
KEY PLAYERS: Jabil, St. Petersburg; The Mosaic Company, Tampa; Publix Super Markets, Lakeland; Roper Technologies, Sarasota
Innovation & Technology
Looking to site your technology company in the right place? Look no further than Tampa. This city of nearly 385,000 residents leads the state in high-wage STEM jobs and is quickly becoming a hub for IT companies of all shapes and sizes. Forbes recently dubbed Tampa the top emerging technology city in the country, beating out its longtime rivals which included New York City, Miami and San Francisco. Best news of all: this trend shows no signs of stopping. Tech jobs in Tampa Bay are projected to grow 8.5% overall by 2025.
And here’s proof that technology workers across the nation are moving to Tampa Bay. According to the website LinkedIn, which recently released its top 10 cities for tech employment based on migration patterns, Tampa ranks No. 6 nationwide and No. 1 in Florida with roughly 128 tech employees per every 10,000 LinkedIn users relocating to the region between May 2020 and April 2021. By way of contrast, using the same criteria, Miami-Dade ranked No. 11 and Orlando No. 12.
Among recent developments in this busy sector:
• San Francisco-based cybersecurity solutions provider OPSWAT has established its East Coast headquarters in Tampa with the intention of creating 100 jobs over the next three years.
• Clearwater-based KnowBe4, provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, is expanding for the seventh time since 2010 with the acquisition of Washington-based MediaPRO, a cybersecurity company offering privacy awareness training.
• Fast, a San Francisco financial company that deals in online checkout services, has named Tampa its official East Coast home base. Founded in 2019, Fast simplifies the online shopping process through secure one-click checkouts.
• RabbitRun, a manufacturer of software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) products to improve small business and remote worker connectivity, has relocated its headquarters from Toronto to St. Pete and aims to add 25 new employees by year’s end.
• McLean, Va.-based digital authentication company ID.me has opened a “second home” in Tampa with plans to hire 500 local workers in 2021.
• Tampa technology company Bluenet, which provides companies with technology, data and analytics, testing and managed services, has rebranded itself as Blue.cloud, which more aptly describes the firm’s pivoted focus to provide cloud services.
• Cybersecurity giant ReliaQuest, which was founded in Tampa in 2007, has elected to site its corporate headquarters at Strategic Property Partners’ Thousand & One in Tampa’s new Water Street neighborhood.
• On the heels of its expansion to Bulgaria in 2019, cybersecurity and privacy compliance company A-LIGN, has opened two new international offices in Ireland and Panama.
• Massachusetts-based International Data Corp., a technology research business that works with investors and startups, is expanding to Tampa Bay with the expectation of hiring 100 new employees over the next 18 months.
• Entropy Technology Design, a Tampa-based threat detection company focusing on both natural and manufactured threats, has secured a three-year, $4.25 million contract with the Pentagon. The funding will be used by Entropy to research and develop its technology for the Department of Defense to detect, identify, track and disable small, unmanned aerial systems.
KEY PLAYERS: A-LIGN, Tampa; ID.me, McLean, Va.; KnowBe4, Clearwater; ReliaQuest, Tampa
Logistics and Distribution
Tampa Bay excels at logistics and distribution because it has all the right assets: Florida’s largest seaport by size and tonnage; a top-rated international airport; superior rail connections; and an interstate highway network that puts 34 million consumers within an 8-hour drive. No wonder so many of the most readily recognizable names in distribution — Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair and IKEA — are already here, and more are on the way. If your business needs superior connections, Tampa Bay is the right place to be.
By air: Tampa International is the largest of the three commercial airports serving Tampa Bay. In 2020, TPA handled 10.2 million passengers, a 54.5% decrease from 2019 and its lowest annual total since 1993. Cargo fared better at 243.2 tons in 2020, compared to 220.9 the previous year. But while planes were grounded, construction continued at TIA’s 270,000-sq.-ft. SkyCenter One, the first commercial office building linked to the airport by train; first tenants were accepted in July 2021. St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport experienced its worst month ever in April 2020 with a passenger count of just 5,799; by July 2021, the count had risen to 262,681. Similarly, at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where passenger traffic dipped by 95% in April 2020, August 2021 was a record-breaker at 2,034,535 passengers.
By sea: Port Tampa Bay, Florida’s largest port by physical size (5,000+ acres) and cargo tonnage, remains among the nation’s most diversified, handling all major cargo categories, including liquid and dry bulk, containers, commodities and automobiles. In FY2020, 32.9 million tons of cargo passed through the port, including 141,030 TEUs of containerized cargo, a 33% increase over the previous year despite slow-downs across the board elsewhere due to the pandemic. Cruise numbers were less encouraging, however. Port Tampa Bay welcomed only 112 cruise ships in 2020 compared to 233 in 2019, and at 507,920, just slightly more than half its usual number of cruise passengers. But there’s good news ahead. A new shipping service delivering Dole pineapples and bananas from Honduras and Guatemala to the U.S. has started passing through Port Tampa Bay weekly, and cruises are slowly but surely beginning to come back.
On the southern edge of Tampa Bay, at Port Manatee — the nearest U.S. deep-water seaport to the expanded Panama Canal — containerized cargo trade continues to swell at record pace. In FY2020, Port Manatee moved 9.3 million tons of cargo and an all-time high of 88,466 TEUs, representing a 54.6% increase over the preceding 12-month period when the port moved a then record 57,239 TEUs. Port officials continue to attribute the gains to robust growth by Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping, which began cross-Gulf service with Mexico in 2014 and is adding a fourth port of call there, and Del Monte Fresh Produce, bringing Latin American fruit to Port Manatee for 40 years.
By rail: Tampa Bay offers 500 miles of active railroad and siding tracks operated by Florida-based CSX, which maintains a major rail yard, intermodal terminal, TRANSFLO terminal and automotive distribution center in Tampa.
By road: Interstate systems I-4, I-75 and I-275 directly link Tampa Bay to Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Pensacola and all points in between and beyond. A truck ramp from Port Tampa Bay leads directly to and from I-4, which connects to I-75 less than 10 miles away.
Recent developments in this sector prove that companies in need of large spaces and easy connections are readily drawn to Tampa Bay:
Signode Industrial Group, a division of Crown Holdings, has opened a temporary office in Tampa as it begins the process of fully relocating its corporate headquarters from Glenview, Ill. by 2022. Signode offers transit packaging services, which include strapping and stapling services and automation for moving pallets in and out of storage positions in warehouses. With more than 80 manufacturing facilities across six continents, Signode employs 7,000+ worldwide. Approximately 100 Illinois workers will relocate to Florida; another 100 will be hired locally.
Power Design, a St. Petersburg-based design-build electrical contractor and systems integrator, is relocating its distribution and prefabrication operations from Atlanta to a warehouse facility in Manatee County.
Across the region, speculative projects promise a bright future for companies needing warehouse space, too. In Polk County, two projects with easy access to I-4 are ready for tenants: Logistix Hub at County Line with 404,040 square feet and CenterState Logistics Park East with 1.01 million square feet. And near Tampa International Airport in Hillsborough County, the 245,000-sq.-ft. TIA Logistics Center and the 125,400-sq.-ft. Airport Logistics Center anticipate ground breakings in 2021.
And last, but not least, there’s Amazon, which is on target to open a 633,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in Temple Terrace before Christmas 2021. Other Amazon facilities in the region that are completed or nearing completion include a 120,000-sq.-ft. fulfillment center in North Port (2020); a 110,825-sq.-ft. distribution center in Venice; and last-mile delivery stations in Lutz, Seffner and Gibsonton. And rumored, but not yet confirmed: a warehouse under construction near MacDill Air Force Base and a patch of Pinellas County land, which at 100,000 square feet each are just the right size to become Amazon last-mile delivery stations.
KEY PLAYERS: Ace Hardware, Oak Brook, Ill.; Amazon, Seattle, Wa.; Blue Grace Logistics, Riverview; Home Depot, Atlanta, Ga., Integrity Express Logistics, Cincinnati, Ohio
With more than 63,0000 people producing everything from building materials and fertilizers to flight simulators and luxury yachts, Tampa Bay’s manufacturing sector is not only staying busy, it’s growing even in the midst of a pandemic. Among recent developments:
• Spectrum Custom Molds & Manufacturing is on a trajectory to quadruple in size by 2023. The veteran-owned firm, which specializes in product prototyping, tooling, mold design and manufacturing, plans to grow its presence in Bradenton from 5,800 square feet to 20,000 square feet over the next two years.
• Venice-based PGT Innovations will expand its West Coast presence with the signing of an agreement to acquire California-based Anlin Industries (aka Anlin Windows & Doors) for approximately $126 million. PGT is a national leader in premium windows and doors, including impact resistant products.
• Clearwater’s MarineMax, the world’s largest boat and yacht company, posted record revenues for its third fiscal quarter in 2021, boosting sales 34%. In July, the firm announced an expansion of its Midwest operations with the purchase of Minnesota boat dealer Nisswa Marine.
• Suzuki Marine, a new division of Suzuki Motor of America that manufactures and sells outboard motors and related accessories, has opened its corporate headquarters in Tampa.
• Flight simulator manufacturer CAE USA continues construction on its new U.S. headquarters adjacent to Tampa International Airport. The 290,000-sq.-ft. facility is slated for completion in 2022.
KEY PLAYERS: Advanced Airfoil Components, Gibsonton; CAE USA, Tampa; Jabil, St. Petersburg; The Mosaic Company, Tampa
For the third year in a row, University of South Florida is named among the nation’s top 50 public universities on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Public Universities 2022” and at No. 103, just missed landing a spot among its top 100 “Best National Universities.” In 2020, USF again ranked second among Florida universities and fifth worldwide for patent production with 123 new U.S. utility patents. On the horizon for USF: lots of construction, including the five-story Judy Genshaft Honors College in Tampa and a four-story Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Teaching Facility in St. Pete.
Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland has plenty to be proud of now that U.S. News & World Report has named Florida’s newest college No. 1 among Top Public Schools, Regional and No. 3 among Regional Colleges, South. Opened in 2012, Florida Poly has begun offering the state’s first bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity engineering and is moving forward with construction of its 90,000-sq.-ft. Applied Research Center in Lakeland.
Ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s Regional Universities South are:
• Florida Southern College in Lakeland at No. 8, known for being home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the U.S.
• University of Tampa at No. 13, which broke ground in May 2021 on a 150,000-sq.-ft. technology building to house its computer science, business information and cybersecurity programs. Anticipated completion: fall 2022.
• Pasco County-based Saint Leo University, at No. 29, offering highly focused “micro-credential courses” for adults in “hot” topics such as data analytics, computer applications and web design. The oldest Catholic university in Florida, Saint Leo recently relocated its Tampa Education Center to the former Berriman-Morgan Cigar Factory in west Tampa.
Life Sciences & Health Care
Home to 14% of Florida’s biotech companies and 22% of its pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing workforce, Tampa Bay is both a driving force in Florida’s fast-growing life sciences industry sector and a magnet for medical innovation. While familiar names like Amgen, Bausch & Lomb, Bristol Myers Squibb, Florida Blue, Johnson & Johnson, M2Gen and Quest Diagnostics continue to enjoy success in this region, locally grown firms are expanding their facilities and new companies are arriving:
• Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has opened a 105,000-sq.-ft. operations center in Tampa Heights near Armature Works and next door to biotech firm Axogen. Described as a “global capability hub,” Pfizer’s Tampa office will host the firm’s logistics and business development departments, including finance, human resources and digital operations.
• The Soule Co., a maker of disposable foam, reusable gel and other “patient position” devices, has broken ground on a 100,000-sq.-ft. facility next door to its existing 62,000-sq.-ft. building in Lutz. The new facility will house the firm’s medical arm while packaging operations will remain in the smaller, existing location. An estimated 25 new jobs are expected.
• Tampa biotech company Psilera Bioscience has secured a $2.5 million investment toward its goal of overcoming preconceived notions of psychedelics and resistance to using them to treat addiction.
• New Jersey-based Pacira BioSciences celebrated the opening of its 20,000-sq.-ft. Pacira Innovation and Training Center of Tampa (PITT) in fall 2020. The facility is used to train surgeons and anesthesiologists in how to properly administer non-opioid pain management relief therapies.
• Medical device company PainTEQ has moved its Tampa headquarters from downtown to the Tower Place building on North Westshore Boulevard with plans to add 25-30 employees over the next year.
In downtown Tampa, University of South Florida’s CAMLS — Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation — provides state-of-the-art, hands-on learning opportunities for practicing physicians and medical students. Nearby, at USF’s 395,000-sq.-ft. Morsani College of Medicine & Heart Institute, some 1,800 students, faculty and staff live work and study along the downtown waterfront in Strategic Property Partners’ $3-billion Water Street Tampa development.
Here too, students enjoy ready access to Morsani’s primary teaching hospital, Tampa General, which for the sixth year in a row has been named Tampa Bay’s “Best Hospital” by U.S. News & World Report with top 50 rankings in five medical specialties: ear, nose and throat (No. 21); orthopedics (No. 23); gastroenterology & GI surgery (No. 26); diabetes & endocrinology (No. 28); and rehabilitation (No 36). This region’s only Level I trauma and comprehensive burn care center, TGH is also the nation’s sixth busiest transplant center, logging 611 such procedures in 2020. In September 2021, TGH announced plans to invest $550 million to improve existing facilities and add new structures.
Also earning top 50 rankings from U.S. News & World Report: Moffitt Cancer Center, No. 26 nationwide for cancer care. One of only two National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Florida, Moffitt celebrated the ceremonial topping out for its new 10-story, $400 million surgical hospital near its main facility that will expand patient capacity by 65% and allow for approximately one-third more procedures over the next decade. The facility is slated for completion in 2023. In the meantime, Moffitt has unveiled its plans for a second campus in Pasco County to include more than 1.4 million square feet of research lab/office, industrial/manufacturing and clinical building space.
Morton Plant and Sarasota Memorial crept up a notch to be named the sixth best hospitals in Florida on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals, 2021-22.” Both were rated as high performing in 15 procedures/conditions; in addition, Sarasota Memorial was nationally ranked at No. 39 for Rehabilitation. Other ranked hospitals in Tampa Bay include St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa at No. 12 and AdventHealth Tampa and St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, tied at No. 25.
On the pediatrics side, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg was recognized as a “Best Children’s Hospital 2021-22” in eight out of 10 categories, including neurology & neurosurgery, diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, cancer, neonatology, orthopedics, urology, and pulmonology & lung surgery. All Children’s was the only pediatric hospital in Tampa Bay to make the rankings.
KEY PLAYERS: Amgen, Thousand Oaks, Calif.; Bristol Myers Squib, New York, N.Y.; Florida Blue, Jacksonville; Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.
Life & Leisure
Water Street WELL
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 — about 5 million square feet of residential, hospitality, office, retail and educational space in downtown Tampa is nearly complete. Highlights include: The 26-story, 519-room JW Marriott Tampa Water Street, with four restaurants, a spa, ballrooms and meeting space, and 1001 Water Street, a 20-story mixed-use tower that includes 380,000 square feet of office space with ground-floor retail.
A Great Place to Play
Covid-19 put a damper on Tampa Bay tourism in 2020, but little by little, the industry — and the out-of-staters who largely fuel it — is making a welcome comeback. Whether you are a resident or visitor, take time to enjoy what the twin cities of Tampa and St. Pete have to offer. On the Tampa side, there’s the Riverwalk, which takes you past four must-see destinations: Glazer Children’s Museum; the Tampa Art Museum; the Florida Aquarium, which marked its 25th anniversary in 2020; and the Tampa Bay History Center. And if you’re into theme parks, don’t miss Busch Gardens, a few miles north of the city. On the other side of the bay in Pinellas County, there’s the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter and Hope, the stars of “A Dolphin’s Tale”; the new St. Pete Pier; The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art; The Fine Arts Museum; The Dali (world’s largest collection of Salvador Dali’s art); the newly opened Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in St. Pete; and of course, the beaches, especially St. Pete Beach which is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. this year by TripAdvisor.
Venture Forth Beyond the Bay
This region has way more to offer than just Tampa-St. Pete and it’s all readily accessible by car. There’s the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton; The Ringling complex of museums in Sarasota; Dinosaur World in Plant City; 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 by all means, save time for LEGOLAND in Winter Haven, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2021.
Worth the Wait: St. Pete’s New Pier
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 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 & 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-shaped 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.