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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 6, 2015 6 years ago

Pockets of growth

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TekBank chooses Tampa over Miami and Atlanta to create its new IT hub, thanks to Jeffrey Vinik's redevelopment push.
by: Michael Hinman Tampa Bay Reporter

Sid Hasan's first task after joining TekBank as a senior partner was his most important: Find the information technology company a Southeast hub that would attract both clients and high-wage employees.

Hasan looked at Atlanta. He considered Jacksonville. He especially pondered Miami.

In the end, however, Hasan said the choice was clear: Tampa.

“You have a man like Jeffrey Vinik spearheading $2 billion in development in Tampa's downtown, creating a borough if you will -- a little pocket of downtown -- that's going to attract millennials and empty nesters alike,” Hasan says. “One of the core ingredients of this recipe is a tech infrastructure that is not only bricks and mortar, but it's telecom, network and switching. It's everything that we want to align ourselves with.”

Herndon, Va.-based TekBank, an IT services firm, expands into Tampa this spring with plans to create up to 20 positions in 2015. Those jobs could have a direct economic impact of up to $2 million, Hasan says, with the hopes that many of those people -- coders, developers and project managers -- will be local and earning salaries in the $100,000 range.

They would take over a rather small physical space in either Tampa's downtown or Westshore District -- likely no more than 2,000 square feet -- but that would be just the beginning for a company that already employs up to 100 people in the Northeast.

Hasan has been working with the University of Tampa, among other schools, to find employees. He also started the Channel District Urban Professionals Society last year, which Hasan hopes will raise the profile of the kinds of people making Tampa's Channel District home.

From a geographic standpoint, Tampa will be a hub for TekBank that is in easy striking distance of Atlanta or Miami, without burdening potential employees with high costs of living. Plus, while other cities may have a higher profile, it's also more difficult to get noticed there.

“We needed a place that was large enough to be a city, but small enough to still be intimate,” says Ken Elias, TekBank's managing partner. “When we looked at Miami, they had a lot of opportunities. But we also knew we would be lost down there. Everybody was in Miami already, and it just wouldn't be a good market for us to be in.”

The Tampa Bay area is underserved when it comes to technology services, Hasan says. The public sector, especially the city and county governments, could really use more options when it comes to outsourced information technology.

Yet TekBank is still an unknown in Florida's technology scene. Hasan set up a one-man shop in the region late last year to get TekBank's expansion rolling, and during that time has focused his initial efforts on face-to-face meetings. He's already meeting with technology decision-makers at the local government levels, and just wrapped up one of several trips to Tallahassee as he works to capture some state-level clients as well.

Hasan knows he has a long road ahead.

“Here we have zero brand equity, and what I am tasked with doing is building our customer base and getting us over that hurdle,” he says. “I've built a good network along the way, and now I'm leveraging that so that we can bring something new to the Tampa community.”


At A Glance

TekBank

Year founded: 1998

Headquarters: Herndon, Va.

Managing partner: Ken Elias

President/COO: Sudhakar Garlanka

Business: Provides information technology resources and services to commercial and government clients.

Clients: Include Fannie Mae, Amtrak and IBM

This story was updated to reflect information on the company's current clients.

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