What we see in our startup community is so inspiring. There are so many entrepreneurs building companies with exciting technology and creative thinking. Problems are being solved and doors being opened. Tampa Bay is a community of great opportunities and wonderful people. It is the community that I have called home for 30 years and it is a community that is ambitious and growing.
For many years, my passion has been to work diligently to help raise the level of economic opportunity across the state and right here in Tampa Bay. One thing that I have seen in that time is that communities, like ours, grow when there is innovation, diversity, and collaboration.
Investment in Innovation
Tampa Bay has not historically invested in innovation-driven or technology-based businesses. Despite being home to companies like TechData and Jabil Circuit, our community has been primarily built around tourism and the real estate market. In 2008, our local economy came to a dead halt as a result of the Great Recession. We certainly don’t want to see history repeat itself so we must build a more diverse economy.
This is why we need to encourage our investor community to engage in our technology ecosystem. There are many opportunities for traditional investors to participate in the growth of our technology community. We need our investment community to diversify and part of that diversification needs to be a focus on technology.
Diversity is an Asset
One of the things I love about Tampa Bay is how varied we are as a community. If you look around our region, you can see how each city and town is a little different from the next. Each area has a unique history and culture and we enjoy them because they are different from our own. There are so many wonderful and creative things happening around the Bay that would not exist without diversity.
I believe that diversity goes well beyond the cultural, gender, and racial definitions we apply to it. Diversity gives us different perspectives and it gives us the space for new ideas. Diversity is vital to an innovation-driven economy and we need to actively curate it. Diversity is an asset because it creates value. I also believe that if we nurture it, diversity can bring us all together.
Collaboration is Currency
Across our community, I see a need for even greater collaboration. We need to get involved and we need to be more engaged. Our ecosystem is on the rise and Tampa Bay is being recognized as an emerging market for technology and innovation. We need stronger partnerships and closer communication in order to tackle the challenges ahead. Participation and commitment on the part of the government, higher education, nonprofits, and the private sector will be critical to our long-term success.
As our community continues to grow, I see a remarkable opportunity for Tampa Bay to become a dynamic and diverse 21st-century economy. If we bring our resources together, we have the potential to make Tampa Bay one of the leading innovation hubs in the United States.
Please join me in this effort. Find a way to get involved and contribute. If you are already engaged, thank you. I look forward to working together with you.