Urban Advisor

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Saint Petersburg, Florida, United States

The Employment Zone

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There has been a lot of regional cooperation going on in terms of promoting the region for economic development. Tampa Bay Partnership and others are doing a lot of studies and really pushing for a shared regional economic development plan. I think it is time to take it a step beyond studies and meetings, and developing a real framework for growing the region's economy using a concrete planning tool I like to call the Tampa Bay Employment Zone.

This zone would be the focus of economic and employment growth for the entire Tampa Bay region. It is centralized around the these thoroughfares: Ulmerton Road, I-275, I-4 and I-75. This is the area where people would go to work, and where employers would want to locate.

Tampa Bay Employment Zone Area

The Zone would be devided into sub-zones, each with a different focus as follows:

Sub-zone 1: Central Pinellas/Ulmerton Road would focus mainly on medical manufacturing and wharehousing

Sub-zone 2: Gateway/Carillon would focus mainly on finance, insurance and other corporate offices

Sub-zone 3: Westshore would also focus on finance, insurance and other corporate offices

Sub-zone 4: West Tampa would focus on entrepreneurial/small businesses with a focus on tech start-ups

Sub-zone 5: Tampa City Center would continue to be the focus for banking, legal services, government and corporate headquaters

Sub-zone 6: Ybor City would focus on entrepreneurial/small businesses like West Tampa, but with a more arts and entertainment focus

Sub-zone 7: East Tampa would focus on wharehousing and distribution with its proximity to the port and rail yards

Sub-zone 8: The I-75 Corridor would be the focus for call center development

Sub-zone 9: The I-4 East Corridor would focus on "green" technology

While these would be the focus for the sub-zones, it would not preclude other types of businesses from locating within a certain sub-zone. For instance, a call center may locate in Sub-zone 2, or a small accountinig firm from locating in Sub-zone 4. All municipalities with the zone would adopt this zone as part of their planning and economic development strategies, formally incorporate them into their comprehensive plans and zoning codes, and join forces for joint incentives (as appopriate) to cultivate existing businesses and attract new businesses to the Zone.

This Zone would make other planning initiatives, such as mass transit, even more effective. It would also help generate some much needed excitement and buzz for a region not really known for doing so. Further, it would prevent the cannibalizing that often occurs when cities within a region all compete for the same businesses, as everyone benefits through a diversified economy and increased access to these jobs through transportation improvements designed specifically for this purpose.

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