TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially unveiled Monday morning. Its mission: To recruit more business talent and relocations to this metro area.
Millennials, in particular, are a prime target of the new recruitment campaign.
Dubbed "Make It Tampa Bay," the campaign was announced by Santiago Corrada, CEO of the Tampa-Hillsborough tourism agency Visit Tampa Bay, at a press briefing held in downtown Tampa at the visitors center in the Tampa City Center. Blind Tiger Cafe owner and Black & Denim apparel co-founder Roberto Torres, already an emerging star among younger business leaders, represented the area's millennial and entrepreneurial talent.
"This area offers entrepreneurs all the right ingredients for success," he said. "Lower cost of living and doing business. Access to great talent. Incredibly supportive local government and business leadership, and a community full of welcoming people who are genuinely eager to help you succeed," he added. "People looking for a city they can move to and make an impact need look no further than Tampa."
Why the millennial obsession among cities? It is widely perceived that the future success of metro areas will depend heavily on which ones are able to attract — and keep — well educated and talented people in the 20s and 30s. Not only do millennials bring fresh ideas and the inevitable cultural vitality of youth, but those with top talent are destined to become the future leaders of more vibrant business communities.
At least that is the hope.
The marketing plan is to piggyback a business and millennial recruitment message on top of well established tourism promotions in such cities as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas.
Corrada credits the county's Tourism Development Council for recognizing the potential to leverage Tampa Bay's strong tourism marketing efforts as a tool to also emphasize corporate relocations.
The answer is the Make It Tampa Bay campaign, he said. "If you love visiting Florida's most diverse destination, you're going to love living and doing business here even more," Corrada stated. "Our messengers are locals who share their personal stories of what it's like to live, work, and build a business in Tampa Bay."
At the makeittampabay.com website, for example, businesses and curious millennials can wander the Tampa Bay area through the stories of many of its young business successes here. Those tales — there are many on the site — include the video startup adventures of such millennials as:
• Manufacturer Erin Meagher: "I've called Tampa Bay home since my teens. I'm now the chief coconut at Kelapo Coconut Oil and founder of Beneficial Blends, a company that produces organic oils. Beneficial Blends has made the Inc. 5000 list for the past two consecutive years, and we're one of the top 10 fastest growing companies in the region. Tampa is great for my business."
• Scientist Ruan Cox: "I'm from Miami. I came to Tampa Bay in 2009 for graduate school at USF's College of Medicine, pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. I'm excited to be here because I have the pleasure of working at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Making a difference in the lives of others by helping to discover innovative cancer treatments motivates me to go to work each day."
• Retailer Torres, who spoke at Monday's event: "The growth Tampa has experienced in the last ten years is influential in the growth of our businesses. We align our values with those of the new Tampa Bay. I say 'new' because it is now full of millennials. I like to say that innovative industries have the opportunity to thrive in Tampa."
• Tech CEO Ryan Clarke of SiteReady: "I'm a fourth-generation Tampa Bay native and co-founder of this workplace technology integration and consulting firm. Tampa Bay presents so much more opportunity to me than a market like Boston or New York that has already peaked. You have the opportunity to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and make more of an impact in the community."
Plenty of other young millennials appear on the website to share why Tampa Bay works for them. (The one caveat is the site uses the regional term "Tampa Bay" but offers details on people and places to live in Tampa and Hillsborough County.)
The project kicked off in the wake of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Council working closely with StandUp Tampa, its advisory group of millennial entrepreneurs and executives. The group's mission is to discover how best to communicate what the Tampa Bay community has to offer for their peer CEOs and professionals.
"Talent is the top priority for companies looking at our market for potential relocation or expansion.," said Tampa Hillsborough EDC CEO Craig Richard. "We envision Make It Tampa Bay becoming a valuable recruitment tool for local companies to use as well."
Timing counts. The campaign was supposed to be unveiled just over a month ago on a Friday as Hurricane Irma began threatening the entire state of Florida. Now Irma's impact is for the most part over, and the Make It Tampa Bay slogan sounds suddenly even more attractive with winter's approach not far off in most of the targeted metro areas.
Will this campaign work? The more these dynamic millennials can be out front sharing their testimonials, the better.
Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] Follow @venturetampabay.
For more information: go online to www.makeittampabay.com