!p celebrates innovation, investments in USF area of Tampa

When it comes to fueling ingenuity, the spark of creativity may come when you put people together. They talk, they share, and they make money.

That’s the recipe for success and innovation shared by journalist, author, urbanist, futurist and two-time Jeopardy! champion Greg Lindsay, who spoke at the Tampa Innovation Partnership’s Innovation Gathering Thursday night. 

He showed bringing people together to collaborate often brings results.

“The better we can do that, the better light and heat we can throw off,” Lindsay says. “Cities are really strange creatures. They get better as they get bigger and they can arguably live forever.” 

Some 317 gathered at USF Connect, on the fringe of the University of South Florida in Tampa, despite an evening of rainy weather. They packed into the lobby area, where long tables with food from nearby restaurants set the stage for networking.

This is the fourth annual Innovation Gathering for the group dedicated to revitalizing a 19-square-mile district bounded by Bearss Avenue, Busch Boulevard and Interstates 275 and 75. 

Greg Lindsay, co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next, talked about London, Boston and Detroit, and how the original tech incubators were coffeehouses or bars. Greg Lindsay is co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next.

He told the group innovation happens in a local environment that is globally connected. There people can not only share their ideas but export them. 

Showcasing what you have is important. In the case of vacant storefronts, revitalization may come by letting people use the space temporarily for free to attract attention and spur thinking as to future opportunities.

He also suggests people in the private sector with ideas for innovations not wait for the government to endorse and implement change -- instead, they should try it themselves. Another hugely important ingredient is local leadership, including collaboration and partnership in business and neighborhoods who will help move toward positive change.

Marking progress
 
At the gathering, !p Executive Director Mark Sharpe recapped progress in the area, including a $1 billion transformation of University Mall, expansions at area hospitals and the upcoming addition of Florida’s tallest launch coaster, Tigris, coming to Busch Gardens in 2019.

The mall is being transitioned into a multi-use facility to include not only retail but entertainment, hospitality, education, medical, office and residential.

Florida Hospital, which will adopt the name AdventHealth January 2, has a $256 million expansion in the works which is targeted for completion in summer 2021. Its new, six-story Surgical and Patient Care Tower is expected to bring 117 new clinical jobs initially and 587 jobs by year 5, hospital officials say.

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital broke ground July 31 on its new $148.6 million Bed Tower project, a four-story building to add 96 medical-surgical single patient rooms and 40 intensive care unit beds.

He also noted USF opened up three new residence halls at The Village this fall. It provides housing for 1,100 students at Endeavor, Horizon and Pinnacle residence halls.

Joe Lopano, Tampa International Airport’s Chief Executive Officer spoke briefly about improvements at TIA, which is currently in the second phase including a nine-story office building.

The third phase calls for the addition of a new airside to accommodate national and international travelers, according to TIA’s website.

“We basically have started a mini city at the airport,” he says. “This is the most unbelievable time to be in Tampa. Those of us that have been here awhile are seeing a transformation that is really unbelievable.”

Honoring success

The program included the University Area Community Impact Awards given in partnership with the University Area CDC, which were presented by Tommy Kyllonen, Lead Pastor of Crossover Church. The Creative Cooperation Award went to Sheriff’s Deputy Ashley Alvarez, who has been working with Mort Elementary School to improve traffic and bicycle safety. The Community Catalyst Award was given to WellBuilt Bikes, represented by CEO Jon Dengler for helping to make reliable transportation attainable, and the Corporate Changemaker Award was given to RD Management/CBRE Management, owner and operator of the University Mall -- to become Uptown. Chris Bowen, Chief Development Strategist for RD Management, received the award.

After the program, Lindsay shared his impression of the Tampa Bay community. “In many ways, this is the frontlines of America -- the big boost in the sun,” says Lindsay, who visited the area in 2010 in the aftermath of economic decline.

What !p is doing is vital, he adds, and leaders like Sharpe help on a personal level to bind people together.

Among the attendees was Isabelle Albert, an urban planner with the Genesis Group, who was impressed by how far Sharpe has taken the ideas.  Robyn Baker, also an urban planner for The Genesis Group, adds: “They’ve done the homework and that‘s the right way to do it.”

Maria Ehrlich, the Director of Business Development and Commercial Construction for The Sinclair Group and a USF alumnus, says she’s excited about the development planned for the area.

“Let’s make something positive happen,” she says.

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. 
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