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Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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A high-tech hot spot

Few communities in America can boast the kind of high-tech employment enjoyed by the Tampa Bay area or a more vibrant community of tech entrepreneurs. Just look at the Tampa Bay Technology Forum — a role model for involvement, networking and knowledge-sharing that has grown from a small group of CEOs to a powerhouse organization with more than 350 members that last year sponsored more than one convening of technology people, and which through TechStart Tampa Bay (its charitable arm focused on motivating at-risk youth to pursue careers in technology) has donated thousands for college scholarships. At the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, a 23-county economic development initiative of the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida, we're proud to have been a part of the forum from its outset 11 years ago. With support from the Tampa Bay Partnership and others, it has been fun to watch it grow from an all-volunteer "club" to a thriving enterprise with a staff that manages meetings, educational programs, philanthropy and much more. When reporting recently on the Hillsborough County Commission's enlightened effort to provide $2 million in funding to nurture technology startups, Tribune reporter Mike Salinero suggested Tampa isn't a hot spot and stated "it's unlikely the Bay area will become the next Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas, anytime soon." He's wrong, and he's right.
He's wrong: Tampa is a tech hot spot. Just ask people like the folks at Mashable, who noted last September that the Florida High Tech Corridor is fourth in technology job opportunities nationwide. Tampa is growing life sciences, medical technologies, financial IT and many other jobs by building companies from the ground up like M2Gen, Tech Data and Fintech. He's right: The Tampa Bay area won't be Silicon Valley or Austin. Why would you want it to be when it is already such a unique mix of tech industries, such as the robotics and simulation activities represented by USF Health's Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, which is expected to attract 30,000 of the world's leading health professionals annually for training in advanced surgical procedures? The Tampa Bay region is earning recognition nationally as one of our great tech communities, with an outstanding research university in USF, connected entrepreneurs, global brands and home-grown success stories. The Florida High Tech Corridor Council is proud to celebrate your success. Randy Berridge Longwood

The writer is president of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
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