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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 1 year ago

Tampa passion play

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Site Selection magazine editor and writer Ron Starner, with columns and stories that reach corporate executives considering moving their companies, is the type of person economic development officials want to impress.

Site Selection magazine editor and writer Ron Starner, with columns and stories that reach corporate executives considering moving their companies, is the type of person economic development officials want to impress.

And in a fall visit to Tampa — something of a homecoming for the Ohio native who grew up mostly in Clearwater — Starner met with a bevy of area economic development officials. Starner was part of a group of national site selection industry writers and officials who toured Tampa. Starner graduated from USF in 1996 and moved out of the region soon after. He's been an editor and executive with Atlanta-based Conway, parent company of Site Selection magazine, for more than 15 years.

Starner, who says he often visits cities with new economic development leadership or regions pursuing an aggressive marketing strategy, was blown away by the progress Tampa has made in the past two decades. In a widely re-tweeted January article from Site Selection magazine, Starner writes that he “discovered an oasis of surging capitalism and entrepreneurs” in Tampa. His report focused on the top 10 things he learned about the region. Highlights include:

Mayor Bob Buckhorn: The city's mayor, writes Starner, keeps his eye firmly on the prize every day. Starner says Buckhorn is so focused “on improving the city that he keeps within plain sight from his desk a countdown clock that reminds him of exactly how many days in office he has left. The day I met with the mayor, the clock said he had 980 days remaining. 'I didn't run for mayor to fix potholes. I ran for mayor to fix this city,' he told me.”

Medical science talent: Starner met with Lee Evans, executive director and head of the North America Capability Center & Global Capability Center Operations for Bristol-Myers Squibb in Tampa. Evans and his team considered 48 potential metro areas in the Central and Eastern time zones, reports Starner, before choosing Tampa for 575 jobs. “We have no problem finding the talent we need here,” Evans says in the story.

Undervalued market: “Good deals on land, buildings, houses, apartments and other ventures are seemingly everywhere in this market,” Starner writes, “but it won't stay this way for long.”

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