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A Tech Hub Grows In Tampa

Updated: May 14, 2020

The Tampa Bay Area has experienced vital growth in the last few years, attracting even the attention of Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates.

According to the Florida Retail Report in 2014, Tampa has become one of Florida's fastest growing cities, second only to Orlando, and closely followed by Miami and Jacksonville.

In April 2016, Christopher O'Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times online detailed Tampa's burgeoning employment growth since the recession:

"Employment in the Tampa metropolitan area has grown by 24 percent since December 2009, making it the fourth-fastest growing job market in the nation and the best in Florida over that period, according to an analysis by the New York Times. In the same period, the region’s unemployment rate has fallen from 11.9 to 4.6 percent."

Now the U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live lists Tampa among the top 50 places to live in the US, based on job market, value, quality of life, desirability, and net migration; and a recent study by Penske scores Tampa at 5th in the nation for the most popular moving destinations of 2016.

And as of February 16, 2017, Tampa International Airport launched their first non-stop flights to San Francisco, with the goal of connecting Tampa-based entrepreneurs with the tech capitol of the world: Silicone Valley.

Tampa's flourishing tech scene has added significantly to the city's desirability factor for companies seeking to expand. That's So Tampa, a local online community and media platform, explains: "Our burgeoning downtown area continues to attract large companies as the destination for their headquarters, all while still maintaining our status as one of the premier spots for startups in the US. Incubators like Tampa Bay Wave have helped nurture and foster growth in the small business sector and inspire confidence in Tampa as a new hub for the tech industry."

One of the perks of moving to a bay area location, says Daniel James Scott, CEO of the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, is that the cost of living has not outpaced the industry growth. According to Scott, while Tampa Bay's tech employment expanded to 50.9 percent, the cost of living only crept up by 24 percent, as opposed to San Francisco's tech employment vs. cost of living increased at roughly 61 percent / 53 percent.

Also gaining ground is a new remote workforce, offering more flexibility and attracting talent from all over the country. Last month, rated Tampa at #3 out of the top 10 cities in the nation for telecommuting job searches, second to Jacksonville, FL and Atlanta, GA.

In recent years Tampa has enjoyed expanded amenities, including a 1.8 mile downtown river walk, and a myriad of public transportation options - including a ferry that now connects us to the neighboring city of St. Petersburg - which has recently experienced its own renaissance, with a revived downtown area and a thriving arts and craft beer culture.

In a piece published by the Hillsborough County Economic Development Corporation, Amy Guttman of Forbes describes billionaire investors Bill Gates' and Jeff Vinik's collaborative projects in Tampa: "Through his own investment fund, joined by Bill Gates’ Cascade fund, Vinik acquired 40 acres of land for a multi-billion dollar transformation of the vacant waterfront into a planned community called River Walk. The complex will host a new USF medical school and a heart institute on land Vinik donated, as well as corporate headquarters, residential, hotel, and meeting space, shops and restaurants. The entire downtown area is being designed for healthy living, in consultation with a wellness company paying close attention to things like air quality meters, Smart buildings with lighting tied into circadian rhythms, bike lanes, water fountains and fruit and vegetable gardens."

As Vinik put it, "This area is an undiscovered gem."

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