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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 6, 2018 4 years ago

Jeff Vinik addresses future of Tampa at innovation summit

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The Tampa Bay Lightning owner headlined an all-star series of speakers at the March 28-29 forum in Tampa.

For the future of Tampa Bay, look 700 miles northwest. 

That's Nashville. Tampa Bay Lightning owner and prominent real estate developer Jeff Vinik cited the fast-growing country music capital favorably in a recent presentation before area business leaders. That especially includes transportation, in which Nashville is poised to spend $5.4 billion on a massive public transit overhaul — featuring an extensive light-rail system — if a tax increase is approved in a referendum next month.

“Think of the way Nashville has emerged as a great place where people want to be,” he says. “We can accomplish that same thing, but we are behind by 10-15 years. If you don’t want to have a car [in the Tampa Bay region], you shouldn’t have to have a car.”

Vinik was one of several speakers at the second annual Synapse Innovation Summit, held March 28-29 at Amalie Arena. Most of the presentations had a similar theme: how Tampa can become the best version of itself.  

Recalling a recent Q&A session with a group of students at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Vinik also issued a note of caution.

“They’re all sponges,” he says. “They wanted to learn about business, about my career path, about how to hire good people … and the future here in Tampa Bay. This is what I said to them: ‘You guys are going to be graduating from Jesuit in the next one to three years; you’re going to be graduating from college four years after that. This what you need to know: If two-thirds of the students in this room, two-thirds of the talent in this room, after you graduate from college don’t stay in or come back to Tampa Bay, then we are failing as a community.’”

 

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