Tampa: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Early in the twentieth century, Tampa was unquestionably a one-industry town. From the late 1880s through the 1930s, cigar manufacturing and related activities—primarily box construction and lithography—dominated the economy. Several hundred competing firms annually turned out well over 100 million hand-rolled examples of the city's bestknown product.

The current story of Tampa, however, is quite different. Though still known for its cigars (now made with tobacco from sources other than Cuba), Tampa branched out to become the industrial, commercial, and financial hub of Florida's west coast; a third of the state's entire population, in fact, lives within a two-hour drive of the city.

Part of what has made Tampa's future so promising is its diversified economic base. The push to diversify first came after World War II, when the emphasis was on fostering the growth of heavy industry. But in the late 1970s, as the traditional stability and profitability of heavy industry seemed threatened, a movement began to make Tampa appealing to a wide variety of businesses, especially those that were more service-related and office-oriented. Since then, the city has been touted as an ideal location for companies in search of regional headquarters, for banking and other financial firms, and for various high-technology industries. The business world has responded with enthusiasm. Looking toward the future, city developers are aggressively seeking to expand into aerospace and medical technology and international trade and to attract additional electronics and financial firms. Today, Tampa is a center not only for cigars and tourism, but also for agriculture, food processing, electronics and other high-technology fields, health care and related industries, and finance.

To those who know Tampa only as a vacation spot, it may come as a surprise to learn that the city is a thriving agribusiness center. Hillsborough County markets an abundance of citrus fruit, beef cattle, dairy products, eggs, vegetables, ornamental plants and flowers, and tropical fish. As a result, many agriculture-related industries have been attracted to the area, including food processing firms; feed, fertilizer, and insecticide companies; and paper and metal container manufacturers. Two breweries, Anheuser-Busch and Pabst, also have facilities in Tampa.

Tampa has attained the status of a foreign trade zone, an area where goods can be unloaded for repacking, storage, or transshipment without being subject to import duties.

Items and goods produced: cigars, electronic equipment, medical equipment, beer, paint, cigars, fabricated steel, fertilizers, citrus products, livestock, processed shrimp, decorative plants, and flowers

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

In May 2000 the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's Committee of One Hundred was named among Site Selection magazine's top ten development groups for the second year in a row. The editors wrote: "If there's anyplace where economic development customer service has been honed and polished to a brighter shine than in sunny Tampa and Hillsborough County, Fla., it would be hard to find." The Chamber's Committee of One Hundred has a number of resources available for people and businesses interested in relocating to the area.

State programs

Enterprise Florida, Inc. is a partnership between Florida's government and business leaders and is the principal economic development organization for the state of Florida. Enterprise Florida's mission is to increase economic opportunities for all Floridians, by supporting the creation of quality jobs, a well-trained workforce, and globally competitive businesses. It pursues this mission in cooperation with its statewide network of economic development partners.

Job training programs

The Workforce Development Board (WDB), commonly known as Jobs & Education Partnership, is a part of Enterprise Florida, Inc. WDB provides policy, planning, and oversight for job training programs funded under the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), along with vocational training, adult education, employment placement, and other workforce programs administered by a variety of state and local agencies. Regional Workforce Development Boards operate under charters approved by the Workforce Development Board. The 24 regional boards have primary responsibility for direct services through a statewide network of One-Stop Career systems. State and local workforce development efforts are concentrated on three broad initiatives: First Jobs/First Wages focuses on preparing workers for entry-level employment including the School-to-Work and WAGES (Work and Gain Self-Sufficiency) programs; High Skill/High Wages targets the higher skills needs of employers and training workers for advancement including Performance Based Incentive Funding (PBIF), Occupational Forecasting Conference/Targeted Occupations, Quick Response Training (QRT), and Incumbent Worker Training (IWT); One-Stop Career Centers are the central elements of the One-Stop system for providing integrated services to employers, workers, and job-seekers.

Development Projects

Business expansion and relocation of businesses to Tampa has been strong since 2000. An October 2004 article in the Tampa Tribune credits this to the comparatively low costs of buying or renting commercial real estate, as well as developers limiting the amount of speculative construction.

In 2002, Coca Cola opened a 33,000 square foot 210-employee service center, and a 58,000 square foot accounting center for the company's North American operations. In 2004, Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. opened a $34 million back-up operations center that will house 400 jobs.

A $120 million retail/entertainment/residential complex with theaters, restaurants, and retail shops is in the burgeoning Channelside district. At the center of the complex, called The Pinnacle, is an observation tower rising from a three-story podium building. At 624 feet in the air, the tower is taller than any of Tampa's downtown buildings. Serving as a gateway into the Channelside district is Heritage Park, which features a 4-acre park and amphitheater, and retail shops and cafes in three buildings. In 2004 work began on a $93 million Towers at Channelside project, a mixed-use development of 260 residential units spread across twin 30-story towers.

Segment D of the $80 million 40th Street Corridor Enhancement Project was underway in early 2005. In five phases, the 40th Street project was created to enhance a 4.2 mile stretch of 40th Street, from Hillsborough Avenue north to Fowler Avenue. The $1.9 million Segment D phase consists of a new bridge and is to be completed in July 2005. Design plans for all phases of the project include roadway lighting, bike lanes, a drainage system, and landscaped medians.

In early 2005, talks began on a new Riverwalk project as part of an effort by Mayor Pam Iorio to revitalize Tampa's downtown. The project hopes to create more than two miles of walkway along the Hillsborough River. Another announcement in early 2005 was the state allocation of $283 million to provide direct truck access from the Port of Tampa to Interstate 4. Pending Florida Legislature approval in July of the same year, the state money would be available in 2009. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $414 million; the mile-long, six-lane connector will also be a tollway.

Tampa's health care facilities are also undergoing expansion and renovation. In 2004, work began on a $65 million, four-story addition to Tampa General Hospital, adding a 280,000 square foot emergency department and Level 1 trauma center. The completion of a $10 million addition to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute vivarium and laboratory research facility is expected in 2005.

Economic Development Information: Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 420, Tampa, FL 33601. Office Address: 401 E. Jackson Street, 21st Floor, Tampa, FL 33602. Information Center, telephone (813) 276-9418 (call this number for relocation information or email Info@tampachamber.com). Switchboard number (813)228-7777 or (800)298-2672.

Commercial Shipping

Tampa's economy benefits greatly from its airport, where freight-hauling has been growing at a rate of 12 percent annually, the CSX railway system linking up with cities to the south and east, and nearby interstate and state highways providing convenient delivery and receiving routes for the eighteen motor freight lines operating in the city. Perhaps its greatest asset, however, is its port—the eleventh largest (by tonnage) in the country and the largest in the state of Florida—which handles more than 50 million tons of cargo annually.

The closest U.S. maritime center to the Panama Canal, the Port of Tampa serves as the gateway to Latin America. It is also home to one of the world's largest shrimp fleets and features modern shipbuilding and ship repair facilities. As the result of a federally-funded harbor-deepening project, super cargo ships have gained access to the port. International trade in Tampa got a boost from the year 2000 decision by the Tampa-Hillsborough International Affairs Commission to establish an office in the new Port of Tampa headquarters building. In 2005, a new cement terminal is scheduled to be completed, while the dredging of Big Bend Channel and the construction of a new general cargo warehouse will be started. The director is charged with establishing the Tampa metropolitan area as a center for international commerce and tourism for west central Florida.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The Committee of One Hundred's recruitment efforts resulted in the creation of more than 54,543 direct new jobs and capital investment exceeding $2.6 billion between 1991 and 2002; announced jobs in 2003 numbered 1,101 and capital investment of $11.6 million. From October 2003–2004, 21,100 jobs were created in the area, making the Tampa area the second fastest growing region in Florida in terms of new jobs and businesses.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 1,225,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

manufacturing: 71,500

trade, transportation and utilities: 216,400

information: 34,700

financial activities: 94,000

professional and business services: 296,700

education and health services: 142,800

leisure and hospitality: 108,100

other services: 48,200

government: 147,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.09 (2003 statewide average)

Unemployment rate: 3.5% (December 2004)

Tampa: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
Hillsborough County School District 21,426
MacDill Air Force Base 19,000
Verizon Communications 14,000
University of South Florida 12,477
Hillsborough County Government 10,886
Tampa International Airport 8,000
James A. Haley Veterans Hospital 5,900
St. Joseph's Hospital 5,242
J.P. Morgan Chase 5,237
Publix Supermarkets 4,630
City of Tampa 4,500
U.S. Postal Service 3,947

Cost of Living

Compared to American cities of similar size and other Florida cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Sarasota, Tampa enjoys a low cost of living.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Tampa area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $241,125

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 98.8 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None (corporate income tax is 5.5%)

State sales tax rate: 6.0% on most items

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 7.0% (the county lodging tax is 5.0%)

Property tax rate: Ranges from $23.7362 to $29.1403 per $1,000