Ninety-five percent of 83 Degrees Media
readers would "recommend the Tampa Bay region as a cool place to live,'' according to the results of a recent survey we conducted as part of a Gasparilla International Film Festival contest.
But while almost everyone here professes to share the love, most also think things could be better.
Top of mind for many: How to better get to where you want to go. Too much time spent in the car, road construction and traffic congestion remain a frustration. As does finding information about cool events before they've already happened.
But rather than summarize, we thought we'd let you take a look at some of the responses as food for thought before our "Not Your Average Speakers'' event on Wednesday, March 27, at the Vault in downtown Tampa, where we'll be hosting a conversation about these very issues.
The Speakers event,
"Tampa Bay's Curious Quest To Be Cool,'' starts at 5 p.m. with networking/ mingling. The program starts at 5:30. If you're planning to go, please RSVP HERE
Below are a representative selection of reader responses (edited for succinctness and clarity) to two questions (in bold).
Let us hear from you! You can still chime in by posting and sharing on Facebook at the bottom of this story, or by Tweeting #83DegreesNYAS @83degreesmedia
What Makes The Tampa Bay Region Cool?
• The proximity to water, the ability to be outdoors so much of the year, Bayshore, Gasparilla and related events, aquarium, the zoo, the dragon boat races, the Saturday morning market.
• The increase in the things that are happening over the past few years -- festivals, outdoor events, more going on downtown, great new restaurants, variety of sports teams, and of course unbeatable weather.
• There are so many opportunities to participate in a variety of activities; from active lifestyle to arts and culture. But coolest among all, is the ability to actively participate in shaping the future of Tampa through committee involvement. Tampa is on the brink of a new beginning and the community is involved in what that will look like.
• The region in its prime for growth!!! We have the professional talent pool, the economic blueprints and cooperative environment fostered by local government, businesses and community leaders.
• Tampa has the best of all worlds! The climate is great; the area has a rich, diverse culture; and there's always something fun to do. Who can beat that!?!
• "CHEW:" Culture, History, Environment and Weather.
• The proper mix of country and city -- from uber hip Ybor City to horseback riding in East Pasco to watching the sunset at a beach on the Gulf. Tampa Bay has it all.
• People in high levels of power/stature are accessible here. It's refreshing, having lived in other parts of the country where this isn't the case.
• Diversity of population, activities available, cuisine, weather, history. Tampa is so diverse, with people who are very passionate about specific causes. Yet I love the way everyone comes together to show support for various charities and each other.
• Tampa has everything form top notch colleges to the coolest cafes. There is really no other place I would rather raise my family!
• SO many great things to see and do. Great place for families. So many wanting to give back to the community. Its blend of cultures & regions -- Latin American, African American, Caribbean, Southern, et al. and history. Ybor City, West Tampa, St Pete, Gibsonton, the Heights (Seminole, Tampa, Riverside) et al. and quirky characters & tales, and our collective laughter about them.
• EVERYTHING! We have the Performing Arts Center, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Mahaffey Theater and many other cultural centers, art galleries, colleges, professional sports teams: football, hockey, baseball, International Airport, beaches, tourist attractions, zoo, aquarium, five-star restaurants, awesome weather -- the list is too long!!
• Tampa has a hidden history that connects it to a lot of events that people often don't know about. Its connection to the Rough Riders, Babe Ruth's longest home run, Jose Marti, and the launching point for Jules Verne's famous "From the Earth to the Moon" shows the type of diversity Tampa has in its history.
• The young crowd, the events at Curtis Hixon (needs more advertising though), the weather!!
• Startups, the beer scene, climate and awesome people!
• Tampa Bay is very rapidly becoming the "up and coming" Florida city offering residents, tourists and businesses not only beautiful weather, beaches, cultural centers, amusement parks, expanding business opportunities, but also a new "urban lifestyle" as the city transforms itself in a metropolis for the 21st century.
What Would Make The Tampa Bay Region Even Cooler?
• More arts events -- music and art. I miss going to art museums of size and seeing special shows and also wandering to look at the permanent collection. The museums here are small and the viewing is a short duration.
• I hope the crew racing on the river grows as I remember that being a fun thing to do on the Charles River in Boston.
• A better downtown Tampa with activities, shopping, more water slide parks. Move the convention center off the water and turn it into a park!
• Better mass transit. Better links between St. Pete and Tampa.
• More jobs for young professionals to stay in town -- too many leave for bigger/better opportunities in bigger/better cities.
• Transportation initiatives -- we need to address flow, congestion and mass transit opportunities.
• Having a reliable source for finding out what/where/when/why for events.
• Mass transit!!!! More emphasis on trolley rides or events at the stations.
• Building up Seminole Heights.
• We really need to focus on economic development in downtown so young professionals will move here for jobs and want to live in downtown too.
• Regular bus service between downtown St. Pete and downtown Tampa (think: business people and Rays/Lightning games).
• More stories in 83 Degrees!
• Better waterfront and port area. Widespread affordable public transportation.
• ECONOMIC GROWTH -- jobs, not more $9-$10 (an hour) jobs. We need tech, green energy and financial jobs.
• Light rail, better public transportation options, completed roadways!
• Multimodal transit!
• Urban connectivity.
• Collective embrace of our natural green spaces -- not merely the beaches.
• We have the bones. We just need to build on it, stop whining, focus on our positives, make our actions be points of pride 100 years from now.
• More local film production and continued growth in independent, locally owned businesses.
• A Trader Joe's.
• More events in downtown Tampa at night and on weekends.
• Transportation. It is hard to move about the points of interest in our city without driving a car through thick traffic. Also, the character of our city is, like its history, hidden and not well known. It should be displayed and the people of Tampa should feel proud of their city.
• Better advertising for events around the city for more participation.
• A better foodie scene! Datz and the Refinery can't do it alone!
• More corporate headquarters to drive mid & upper level career worthy jobs. Retain more USF and UT students. An annual national class business conference. Preservation of historic homes and buildings. And it would be cooler if drivers would stop running over cyclists.
• Eliminate the entertainment, performance and shopping ghettos. Split up the performing arts into multiple separate venues. Stop adding restaurants to Soho. Get rid of the emphasis on drinking in Ybor City. Support independent businesses; do not spend downtown funds on remote, distant stores like the Bass Pro chain.
• The gaping hole in Tampa Bay, begging for development, is the completion of the Channel District, which ground to a halt with the market crash in 2007. Once a haven for slums and warehouses and parking garages, Channel District's bright star is shining again with a new Master Plan to turn it into a major "centerpiece" of the new Tampa.
• Better roads and traffic patterns. It is frustrating to spend at least 2 hours a day in the car. I wish I could say public transportation was better, but it does not make sense in our area.
• People having more confidence. I always hear people say they want to leave Tampa. But they never do. Even those who try to leave come back. If people had a bit more confidence and trust that they can make it here, we would have a lot more going on.
• Mass transit, north Tampa is a cultural wasteland.
• More small (successful) businesses, more arts, music, food and cultural events, an active, safe, livable downtown, a commissary, defined communities with family centers and parks, more outreach to at-risk populations with accessible modes to advance in trade/career, financial, health and social statuses.
• Greater business diversity, new urbanism principles for housing & planning, mass transit.
Diane Egner is publisher and managing editor of 83 Degrees Media. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees. Also tweet up #83DegreesNYAS