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Business Observer Friday, Jun. 28, 2019 3 weeks ago

Mayoral forum: Jane Castor discusses Tampa's transformation

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Bob Buckhorn's successor — who's also a Tampa native — reflects on the city's remarkable run, as well as work yet to be done.

The Tampa Downtown Partnership annual meeting and luncheon, held June 19 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown Hotel, included remarks from Tampa’s former police chief and recently elected mayor, Jane Castor.

She proved that public safety still weighs heavily on her mind when she repeatedly used the word “firearms” instead of “fireworks” when referring to the city’s upcoming Boom by the Bay Fourth of July celebration. The malapropism elicited chuckles from both the crowd and the slightly flustered mayor herself. 

So Castor has some work to do to live up to former Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s finely tuned ability to turn a phrase. But give her time. As Buckhorn’s handpicked successor, Castor knows not to mess with the formula that fueled Tampa’s run of success during her predecessor’s two-term tenure. 

“We have undergone an incredible transformation over the last decade, thanks to organizations like the Tampa Downtown Partnership,” Castor says. “It’s exciting that we are attracting so many businesses. Downtown is on fire, and we’re on so many lists now; it’s just incredible."

A Tampa native, Castor marveled at how far Tampa has already come and how poised it is to compete for talent and business. “This city is going to grow more in the next 10 years than it has in my entire lifetime,” she says.

However, citing the lack of affordable housing that’s been a byproduct of Tampa’s economic growth, Castor says development must be more “thoughtful” in the future.

“It’s something we need to pay attention to,” she says. “We have one opportunity to create the city that we all want to live and work in, a city that we are going to be proud to pass off to the next generation. The last thing we want to do is push people out of the city of Tampa because of rising housing costs and stagnant wages.”

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