Hillsborough County Nurtures Growing Tech Industry
Forbes Magazine recently named Tampa, the seat of Hillsborough County government, as the nation's No. 1 up-and-coming tech city.
Recognition from one of the nation's most respected business periodicals comes as no surprise to those who have watched the county transform from a blue-collar port and manufacturing community to a mecca for innovation, start-ups, and cutting-edge technology.
Hillsborough County government is playing a large role in this metamorphosis, promoting community prosperity by wooing and supporting coveted tech firms and talent. Hillsborough's Board of County Commissioners, through its Economic Development department, provides grants to nonprofit tech incubators and accelerators that connect tech companies with each other, potential employees, and capital.
Tech firms are especially desirable in a community. They pay good wages, diversify local economies, and help not only themselves and similar operations but also those whose primary missions are not directly based on technology.
"Hillsborough County is truly making the most of the incredible talent and assets in our community, and is creating an environment that is attracting companies, investors, and all the essential players who make the future of technology possible," says Shannon Pastizzo, program director at USF CONNECT, a University of South Florida initiative that supports technology companies and life science start-ups.
"Hillsborough County has incredible momentum as its innovation ecosystem matures, more investment is available for start-ups, and programs like USF CONNECT work in partnership with its fellow incubators and accelerators in the area," Pastizzo says. "When Forbes dubs your city as the top emerging technology city in the country, you know you are doing something right."
In 2013 the Board of County Commissioners launched its Economic Development Innovation Initiative (Edi2) to encourage the growth of technology and innovation. Accompanying services, resources, and grants keep the program moving forward.
Hillsborough County has programs that support technology, including offerings at the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center, the Innovation District Initiative, and the Battelle Biosciences Action Plan. The County partners with nonprofit groups that work directly with tech companies to help ensure their success - organizations such as Prospera, Tampa Bay WaVE, InLab@HCC, FIBA, and USF CONNECT, among others.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed tech's progress in the Tampa Bay area. With more programs and events taking place virtually, it has intensified the need for effective tech equipment and components.
Recognition by national media and industry leaders attest to the value of embracing innovation and technology. Forbes Magazine's placement of Tampa atop a list that includes Miami, New York City, Austin (Texas), and San Francisco is high praise. But there's plenty more to do. Hillsborough County is just beginning to tap its tech potential.