Hillsborough drive for jobs off track
A recent St. Pete Times editorial says Hillsborough is on the right track for attracting jobs.
In the 5 years of 2002 through 2006 the unemployment rate in Hillsborough County went from something like 3% to over 12%. All during that time any number of governmental, private and public-private organizations have spent millions of dollars planning “economic development” for the area. However, the biggest stumbling block to attracting high-wage employers to Tampa-Hillsborough has been, and still is, downtown Tampa.
Walk from the Marion Transit center, past City Hall and the County Center to Channelside and you can see the problem: empty buildings, weed-choked lots, cracked sidewalks, graffiti and trash. Walk it at night and you might also experience firsthand the high crime rate.
When delegations from Tampa-Hillsborough travel the world to attract business to relocate here, they proffer incentives and glowing Economic Development reports extolling the virtues of the area. When they leave, these businesses can easily research for themselves, online, what Tampa is really like.
They can find the KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2010 report that rates Tampa as 7th in the world and 1st in the nation as the most cost-effective large city in which to do business. Why isn’t this report front and center on every website in Tampa-Hillsborough? This report alone says we don’t need to offer yet more economic incentives to attract new business.
But, digging a little deeper on the internet they will find websites such as Neighborhood Scout that list downtown Tampa among the least safe neighborhoods in the United States.
For Tampa Mayor Buckhorn to throw another $1 million plus to hire consultants to once again “plan” downtown Tampa, and for the County of Hillsborough to fund yet more “studies” is beyond comprehension. First, clean up downtown Tampa and only then hang out the “Open for Business” sign.
<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen