Nicholas Glover moved from New York City to Tampa in 2012, before it was cool. He grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, and met his wife, who hails from Tampa, in 2010. They both wanted to be closer to their families, so, after considering communities in the Carolinas and the Washington, D.C., area, the Tampa Bay region seemed like the best fit.
A decade later, Glover has become a key cog in the Tampa Bay business community. As vice president of advocacy at the Tampa Bay Chamber, he specializes in government affairs, working to promote laws and regulations that foster a supportive economic environment for businesses — and pushing back against those that don’t.
“When we get that right,” he says, “and take care of businesses that are already here, it serves as a kind of beacon, if you will, to folks who are located around the country, the world, that Tampa Bay is a good place to do business.”
The nation and world have seen and responded to that beacon shining bright. But as ever more people and businesses move to the area, challenges arise that can’t be easily solved by a single piece of legislation. It took some time, but Glover says he now understands how crucial chambers of commerce can be in tackling complex problems.
“When I was having the initial conversations [to join the Tampa Bay Chamber], I was like, ‘I don’t know about chambers, what they do? They’re the ones that do the parades, right?’ You have this image in your mind about what they do. What I end up saying a lot to people is that we are not your grandfather’s chamber, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the scope has changed as the needs of the community have also changed and grown.”
The Tampa Bay Chamber, for example, has supported a new 1% sales tax in Hillsborough County that would fund $183 million in road improvements every year. Glover says the chamber is also deeply concerned about the region’s dwindling supply of affordable housing.
“What happens when you take a step back is that instead of solving for immediate problems and triaging things as they come up, you start to be more strategic,” he says. “So, if businesses need workers who are located closer to their offices, well, the only way that’s possible is to have housing that’s attainable for those employees. And so, we end up doing things that might be a little bit nontraditional for chambers to get involved with. But I think they’re absolutely the right things.”
Confirmation of that comes nearly every day, Glover says, adding that he frequently gets calls from residents that have nothing to do with traditional business priorities.
“That illustrates how good of a partner we’ve been to the community over the years,” he says. “When people start asking us to do things that aren’t necessarily in our purview, that’s a positive thing.”
Name: Nicholas Glover
City of residence: Tampa
Employer: Tampa Bay Chamber
Title: Vice president of advocacy
Birthplace: Columbia, South Carolina
Years in the area: Nearly 10
Marital status/children: Married with three children (6, 4 and 3)
Alma mater/degree: Saint Leo University/MBA candidate); College of Charleston/bachelor's degree in political science
Are you working from the company office, home office or hybrid? Office
What community group or organization are you most involved with? Urban League of Hillsborough County, Metropolitan Ministries, Onbikes, Gentlemen's Quest of Tampa, Electus Global Education Co.
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had? Movie theater projectionist
What’s your top tip for being productive? Start early; fiercely protect your personal time; have dedicated times to respond to calls/emails.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be? Restaurant owner
What’s your favorite off-hours activity? Cooking with music and a great glass of wine
What’s your favorite podcast? HBR IdeaCast
At what percentage on your phone to you start to get low battery anxiety? 10%
What are the top three apps used on your smartphone? The Florida Channel, Zoom, Lyft
What’s your go-to music genre, band or act to be inspired? Classic jazz
Who would play you in the movie of your life? John Boyega
Where is your happy place? On the water
Describe yourself in three words: Resourceful, purpose-driven, ambitious
Who is your mentor for your career and why? Bob Rohrlack. Bob has been in the chamber of commerce and economic development profession for decades. He has amassed valuable international relationships by adding value everywhere he's worked, culminating with his doctoral work at USF.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned from your mentor? The importance of building a strong brand; being strategic with community engagements; investing in career development through training and formal educational opportunities; never forego family commitments, especially while your children are young.