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Business Observer Thursday, Jul. 20, 2006 16 years ago

40 Under 40 Introduction: Bright Young Things

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40 Under 40 Introduction: Bright Young Things
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

40 Under 40 Introduction: Bright Young Things

by Isabelle Gan | Staff Writer

This year's issue of 40 under 40 shows just how attractive our area can be to some of the brightest young professionals.

In the 2006 class of 40 under 40, our seventh, the Review presents honorees from an array of professions, including bankers, lawyers, a novelist, designers and artists, executives from non-profit organizations and business people in the health, IT, retail and real estate industries.

They've come from locations worldwide, totaling 17 U.S. states and eight foreign countries, from Portugal to India and Iran. The variety of the professions they represent is illustrative of the prospects the Gulf Coast has to offer.

Indeed, nine among the 40 were Florida natives who went elsewhere for their education and came back to the area to start a career.

As one Fort Myers honoree wrote: "I was motivated to move back to the Gulf Coast based on the explosive growth in the area and highly attractive entrepreneurial opportunities."

Traditionally given to Sarasota/Manatee county professionals, 40 under 40 expanded its scope this year to include young professionals working throughout the Review's coverage area, from Tampa Bay to Naples. As a result, we received over 100 nominations from as far north as Pasco County and as far south as Collier County.

The final result: A rich amalgam of talent, success and experience among the Gulf Coast's young professionals.

The lack of affordable housing was the number one concern among this year's honorees. Specifically, they said the community ought to think about relaxing government rules on development, subsidizing rents and mortgages, giving perks and increasing wages for young professionals and offering tax cuts to builders of affordable housing.

For the first time since the dot.com heyday of the late 1990s and early 2000s, 40 under 40 includes shining stars from the area's IT field, a now burgeoning industry.

One Tampa Bay IT professional, though, cited the lack of "sufficient technology talent" as a pressing issue for the region.

Another one wrote: "I would include a better curriculum for information technology in universities. I would also get more corporations directly involved with the university systems so they can have internships programs more accessible to students as young as freshmen in college."

As with young people nationwide, the Internet is a major part of this group's professional and recreational activities. Honorees favored web sites such as CFO.com, Wikepedia and CNN.com, giving a glimpse into this group's web surfing habits. Two big favorites were the search engine Google and auction site EBay.

Music, and the high-tech ways of listening to it, plays a big role in their lives, too. Nearly all the nominees noted the songs on their iPods. It's an eclectic list of tunes from multiple genres and generations; '80s hair band Motley Crue showed up twice, for example.

These 40 professionals are truly inspirational. They work hard, most more than 40 hours a week. And they are exceptionally successful; many stand out in their fields because they've accomplished so much at such a young age.

"To have clear in your mind that success is 99% effort and 1% luck," was one Tampa Bay honoree's formula for success.

More importantly, these 40 thrive on being well-rounded. Aside from juggling tasks at stressful jobs, many have an active family life with young children and find time to contribute to the community.

Of course, there's still not enough time to do everything. Nineteen honorees said they'd like to be traveling more. Many wished they could spend less time doing house work, answering e-mails and doing bookkeeping.

Perhaps the most telling, though, about this group of 40 is that almost half would not change a thing if they could have it to do all over again.

Wrote one Sarasota honoree: "Everything that has either happened to me or decisions I've made, both good and bad, have resulted in getting me to this point in my life. I'm happy with that!"

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