Cissy Proctor: Tampa Bay’s economy is flourishing

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

From the Panhandle to the Keys and from rural communities to our biggest cities, economic opportunity is important to all 20 million Floridians.

This month, Tampa Bay highlights the growth we are experiencing across the state and challenges other regions to follow its lead so that every family in Florida can experience the American Dream.

The Tampa Bay economy is flourishing. On Friday at Port Tampa Bay, Governor Rick Scott announced that almost 45,000 jobs were created in the past year in the area. Tampa Bay’s strong growth continues to catapult the state to new economic highs.

Tampa Bay’s success did not happen by accident. The state’s commitment to investments in education, workforce and infrastructure – including Port Tampa Bay – has fostered this incredible business growth and made Florida the best place in the nation to live and work.

In 2010, Tampa was still reeling from the recession. The unemployment rate was high, while job creation and job opportunities were slim.

Just six years later, under Gov. Scott’s leadership, the unemployment rate has declined to 4.6 percent in the Tampa area, one of the lowest rates in the state. The area ranks first in the state with more than 47,000 job openings, including more than 15,000 openings in STEM-related jobs, also the highest in the state.

In the past year, Tampa’s education, health care, logistics and other professional business services industries have been leading the way for job creators. The growth in these industries is great news for local job seekers since these types of employers offer higher wage opportunities.

Tampa’s economic recovery and now sustained growth can also be contributed to the strategic partnerships working to move our state and regional economies forward.

Florida’s high-tech corridor, the state’s STEM hub, is anchored in Tampa Bay and spreads across the heart of the state. Collaboration between different business groups, economic development organizations and educational institutions has successfully drawn thousands of high-tech jobs to the region. In fact, the Tampa area is home to more than 20 percent of the state’s information technology employees.

High-tech companies are moving to this area on a regular basis because the region is known for STEM careers and has the STEM workforce to support this innovation. Just a few months ago in February, information technology firm Cohesion announced it is relocating its national headquarters to Tampa. Cohesion is joining a long list of IT firms relocating or expanding in the area, including BlueGrace Logistics, Cognizant and SunView Software.

At the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, we are proud to work with Tampa Bay leaders to attract a diverse group of businesses that support the region’s growing workforce. We are committed to using all of our resources to foster job growth and ensure a bright future for residents in Tampa Bay and all across the state.

Cissy Proctor is the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.