There’s a lot that makes Tampa Bay inviting: year-round mild weather, waterside living, booming downtown and a nationally recognized dining scene. Add to that an enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit and a strong, engaged business community, and it’s easy to see why TIME named Tampa Bay one of the top 25 cities millennials are moving to in 2017.
“People in Tampa Bay have a passion for entrepreneurship and helping business owners become successful,” says Omar Soliman, CEO and Co-Founder of College Hunks Hauling Junk, who relocated his company to Tampa Bay from Washington, D.C. “I have never seen anything like this in any other city I’ve been to.”
Of all the resources available to entrepreneurs in Tampa Bay, Soliman credits the amount of quality talent available as paramount to College Hunks’ continued growth. The company’s headquarters has rocketed to more than 150 employees, attracting young professionals from Tampa Bay and other areas.
“Relocating our business to Tampa Bay has been the fuel for our growth,” says Soliman. “I like to call Tampa Bay the ‘6th man’ on our team—there is no way we would be able to do $75 million in revenue with more than 100 franchises nationwide if it weren’t for this great city.”
Tampa Bay has served as a business partner for many entrepreneurs and relocated companies. Take Tim Moore, CEO of Diamond View, for instance. His video production company is thriving, having grown from a two-man show to 20-plus employees over the last five years thanks to, as Moore puts it, “the countless opportunities the area has presented through new client acquisitions, continued low cost of living and the growing local talent pool in our industry.”
Some of those client acquisitions have been corporations that have moved to Tampa Bay, creating a robust pipeline of new prospects and partners for local businesses.
“When companies like Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb establish major operations in this area, that really helps our company to engage with those businesses and provide services to them,” says Dylan McCrory, Senior Vice President of SiteREADY, a professional services firm focused on integrating technology into the workplace. “We’re able to hire more people and compensate them well because of the caliber of the projects we’re getting here.”
Moore has also seen the benefits of larger companies and industries moving in. “The biggest advantage that Tampa Bay offers our business is the ease of access to key influencers in our community. From Fortune 500 company executives to billionaire investors, Tampa Bay has a mix of great influencers who live and work in the region, and are easy to connect with.”
Companies large and small sharing knowledge and learning from each other are what give Tampa Bay its passionate entrepreneurial spirit. Working and living in Hillsborough County not only gives professionals a seat at the table, but the chance to get involved with local initiatives that you likely won’t find anywhere else. This drive to innovate is evident in Tampa Bay’s growing industries and the organizations that help those industries thrive.
StandUp Tampa is one of several creative organizations that help young CEOs and entrepreneurs grow their businesses. There’s also StartupBus, which launches startups within 72 hours. Plus, there’s relocation or expansion assistance from the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation, and help with finding talent and training employees from CareerSource. Where there’s a will, there’s a way to succeed in Tampa Bay.
Stevie Morgan, CEO of Cater Me Fit, a health food delivery and meal prep service, has experienced the guidance provided by this collaborative business community firsthand: “People actually want to help you—with no strings attached.”
While the foundations for business are rock-solid, Tampa Bay is not just about taking the business world by storm. When it comes to living here, companies not only have the chance to offer great services and careers, but also a great life.
Erin Meagher, Founder of Beneficial Blends, which makes organic, fair trade coconut oil, thinks of Tampa Bay as “a big little city” in that it has the perks of larger cities without the drawbacks. “Restaurants, shopping, professional sports teams—I’m a huge Tampa Bay Lightning hockey fan—are just some of the benefits, yet we still have less traffic than most top cities,” she says.
For attorney Brad Barrios, a shareholder with Bajo Cuva Cohen Turkel PA, living in Tampa Bay is all about convenience. From his neighborhood in South Tampa, “I can get to work in less than ten minutes, to Tampa International Airport in fifteen minutes and over to the beaches in Pinellas County in less than an hour. My family is never at a loss for things to do, and most activities are walking distance from our house. We love it here.”
Opportunity is everywhere you look in Tampa Bay, and this is just the beginning. There’s never been a better time to move here, to chart your own course for success and to play a role in shaping the future of this exciting region.