Tampa Bay lags behind the rest of the country in attracting Millennials. Business leaders claim to want them here but they fail to recognize what is important to that generation beyond jobs.
The Tampa Metropolitan Statistical Area’s population breakdown reveals the problem. Millennials account for 25 percent of the population nationwide; here it is 20.7 percent, a 17.2 percent deficit. The Millennial Gap would look far worse if only, say, the 30 largest metropolitan areas were surveyed.
In Part 1 of this piece we interviewed five Millennials from St. Paul, San Diego, Chicago, New York City, and Washington D. C. That information, coupled with data compiled nationally, provides a blueprint for attracting Millennials.
The factors that add up to luring the coveted 18 to 34 demographic requires, besides good jobs, an institutional culture shift in Tampa Bay.
Millennials see much that is good here: business groups not only fully embrace Millennials as members but thrust some of them into leadership positions. There are programs that encourage entrepreneurship. Pockets of Millennial neighborhoods thrive: SoHo in Hillsborough, downtown St. Pete in Pinellas. There has been an explosion of chi-chi independent restaurants. cafes, and bistros for every taste. Two world-class medical facilities call Tampa Bay home: Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. The Riverwalk and mushrooming residential development are energizing downtown Tampa. Three entertainment complexes book internationally recognized live shows: the Straz in Tampa, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, and the Mahaffey in St. Petersburg. Intimate concert venues offering more contemporary acts are sprinkled throughout the area. There is one world-class museum: the Dali in St. Pete, and another an hour’s drive away, the Ringling complex in Sarasota.
But there is an ugly side that inhibits any meaningful Millennial recruitment. Here’s what else Millennials see when they look at Tampa Bay:
—A Department of Justice 2016 investigation into the disparity of tickets issued by the City of Tampa to black bicyclists that didn’t reduce crime, stop bicycle crashes or curb bicycle theft. The only thing the policy did was burden black bicyclists, according to the DOJ report.
Worse, after the DOJ listed 22 recommendations for the Tampa police, Mayor Bob Buckhorn asserted, “I am never going to apologize for being aggressive in the crime fight. It’s just not going to happen,” the mayor said. “I don’t think it warrants an apology. I do think it warrants corrective action.”
Mind numbing to a generation that prioritizes tolerance and diversity.
—Unfettered political, business, and media (with one notable exception) support for doling out millions in tax dollars to sports teams owned by billionaires. In fact, not one, NOT ONE, of the nine candidates running for the Hillsborough County Commission in 2016 unequivocally opposed using public funds for a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium.
Their support ran the gamut from minimal (Pat Kemp) to double speak (Jim Norman) to the farm (Ken Hagan). Commissioner Hagan has been the chief water carrier for Rays owner Stu Sternberg in the stadium “search.” Despite a law setting term limits, Hagan has served 16 consecutive years on the County Commission and announced he is running for another term in 2018. The point man for special interests, he has bucked all odds.
Heresy to a generation that prioritizes economic justice and deems professional sports low in the pecking order.
—Local leaders and the media perpetuating the myth that Millennials avoid purchasing automobiles. There’s a good chance some don’t really believe that but by repeating the fabrication, they hope to get a recalcitrant citizenry on board with a tri-county light rail system that will ultimately cost at least $15 billion funded by an increased sales tax. And these auto-aversion falsehoods, parroted by area media, repel Millennials who resent the mischaracterization.
But Millennials haven’t rejected the automobile as a means of transport: our five big city millennials own six vehicles (one also drives a motorcycle). They look at automobiles as utilitarian, not an in-your-face status symbol. A comprehensive report in the L.A. Times states Millennials want in-vehicle technology, are willing to delay an automobile purchase but not forego it, and favor Uber over mass transit. Tampa Bay leaders act clueless when it comes to Millennials and transportation.
Troubling to a generation that is proud of its values and doesn’t want to be mislabeled through ignorance.
Immediate action from the power structure here is essential. Though Millennials wed later than other generations have, they are–get ready for it–aging. In our Millennial quintet, one is married and two are formally engaged. If the power structure here waits five years to implement a realistic, comprehensive plan, the Millennial age range will be 23-39. Then local leaders can go back to the drawing board and try to figure out the proclivities of Generation Z.
For example, this plan for mini-apartments targeting Millennials in downtown Tampa with zilch parking is based on a gross misconception. Even if it was grounded in some fact, time mitigates against any chance of success. I would hate to be the loan officer who approved this sure-fire fail.
The first step in becoming a Millennial magnet is to acknowledge that an issue exists. Pay-for-play articles that misrepresent what Tampa Bay really is exacerbates the problem. If such ploys motivate a few Millennials to explore our area, they would soon be disillusioned. Some would say that Visit Tampa Bay is only doing its job by placing these stories but it causes more harm than good. In a rare display of rationality, none of the local mainstream media–that we know of–reprinted or broadcast the fable.
The next step, attacking the problem, will prove more thorny. Leaders here will have to more closely align local business and social culture with the group they want to so desperately entice. If they are unwilling or unable to accomplish that, Tampa Bay can be written off as a Millennial destination.
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Attracting Millennials to Tampa Bay has been at or near the top of the “to do” list of Tampa Bay’s movers and shakers for years.
Achieving that goal to any meaningful degree has remained elusive.
The reason? A failure to accurately define that generation and identify its priorities. Translation: The Tampa Bay establishment doesn’t really know who Millennials are, relying on social media, faux news, and the eternal bias that older generations harbor against the newest one to come of age.
The best advice to cities that are Jonesin’ for an influx of Millennials: get to know who they really are by casting aside myths and preconceptions.
It is well documented that Millennials are the most educated generation this country has even known as well as the most racially diverse. They are physically active but less interested in watching professional sports than previous generations. Millennials also face more headwinds since the Greatest Generation. Being the most educated has become a two-edged sword because of the skyrocketing costs of higher education and the student debt incurred.
Here’s more about Millennials: they comprise 25 percent of the population and 21 percent of the country’s discretionary spending. Almost 50 percent of them will make a purchase from a company if the purchase supports a cause they believe in. Millennials are heavily into social media and two-and-a-half times as likely to be an early adopter of technology than the rest of the population.
It’s no surprise that big cities pull out all the stops to attract this age group.
Tampa Bay Beat talked with five Millennials that reside in five large U. S. Cities. The subjects were chosen at random with the following requirements: aged between 21 and 34, a 3-2 split in gender either way, and a familiarity with Florida if not the Tampa Bay area.
Our first Millennial, a 30-year-old native Floridian who grew up in Lake Mary, graduated from one of the country’s top universities (out of state) and settled in Clearwater. Frustrated with failed attempts to break into the administrative end of academia, she relocated to Washington D.C. three years ago and immediately gained employment at Georgetown University.
Noting her options were much greater in a city with many institutions of higher learning, she added that Tampa Bay’s problem in attracting Millennials goes beyond the lack of job opportunities.
“The culture in Washington values education and hard work and has more of an intellectual bent than you would find In Florida. There it is more beach, beer, and football.”
A 31-year-old native of St. Paul, Minnesota who works for a financial conglomerate was far less familiar with Florida but visited St. Petersburg for an extended period. An avid outdoorsman, he found the weather oppressive, even in April. He looked at real estate but could not find anything compelling that would induce him to relocate.
“I found excellent employment in the area where I grew up and have the added bonus of having my family, my support system, close by. Nothing really stood out in Tampa Bay that motivated me to explore a move.”
A now 29-year-old woman from Chicago moved to Tampa five years ago because her parents retired here. With a marketing degree from a northern school, she spent a year-and-a-half in the Bay area.
“The job market in Tampa was not great,” she explained. “It was frustrating so I moved back to Chicago and got employed marketing for a law firm for just under six figures.”
Another native Chicagoan, a 32-year-old male, spent time in Tampa knowing the Bay area has a significant number of relocated Midwesterners among its residents. A college graduate, he was disappointed in not only the scarcity of job opportunities but also the age demographics.
“I would have liked to have found more people my age,” he said. “I moved to San Diego and have my own videography business. San Diego not only has professional opportunities but also a strong Millennial presence.”
Our fifth Millennial is a New Yorker and a native Brazilian who briefly resided in South Florida before moving to the Big Apple. She was a professional athlete and although she excelled at her profession, the injury risk became a barrier to her continuing.
In June, the 28-year-old will be getting her degree with a major in communications. She has interned at the United Nations and has a job waiting at News 12 in New York. Besides being in a broadcast journalism hub, she listed other reasons for New York’s appeal.
“Here you advance on your own merit, nothing is given to you. Sure I’ve developed good professional comtacts and I enjoy the fast pace….but diversity is celebrated here. The population is enlightened.”
So there it is: Washington D.C., St. Paul, Chicago, San Diego, and New York. They attract Millennials. Tampa Bay at present has barriers in luring the most desirable generation. None, except the weather, are insurmountable.
Our second part of this report will concentrate on false perceptions by the Tampa Bay establishment and what local business groups and politicians are doing wrong that prevents a great Millennial influx. Cross
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As this store comes down Sears is left with only an Outlet/service
center at 4600 Park Street North and a Clearance center in Pinellas Park at 5251
The Tyrone Store was built in 1968 prior to the construction
of the Tyrone Mall. Sears also had a large retail store on 9th Street in
downtown St. Petersburg for decades.
I worked for Sears at the Tyrone location in sales and
management. At the high point the Tyrone Store employed about 700 full and part-time
people. I managed several retail divisions in the store and the Service Department
at the Auto Center for a couple of years.
During those years, Sears was a great place to work. Outstanding
benefits and a profit-sharing program
that pretty much paid for the house I live in today.
I studied for my MBA, and my daughter got her Bachelor's
and MBA while I was working for the company.
Sears had great products: Kenmore Appliances, Craftsman
Tools, Die hard Batteries, Road Handler Tires and Roebuck jeans you could not
wear out. Warranties and service were the best in the retail business.
Sears had an outstanding employee-training program, and
employees were encouraged to be entrepreneurs as they ran their divisions.
Hardly a day passed in my career after I left Sears
that I did not use something I learned in those training sessions.
What Happened to Sears?
There are many theories. Some blame the sale of Sears
to Sears Holdings, others say the company was stuck in an old retail model;
some think top management just lost interest in the retail business and thought
it would be easier to make money selling Allstate Insurance and investments
than moving all of those goods around and trying to sell them.
All I know is the company was good to my family and me.
I still get a smile when my retirement check from Sears shows up each month.
It's more about the memories than the money.
Of my most fond memories is the guy who was head of
custodial services at the Tyrone Store for a long time. He had been with Sears
at the 9th street store and retired with somewhere over 40 years of
service. Rumor was his profit-sharing payout
was close to a million dollars. I never found out for sure, but he always had a
smile on his face when came in the store after he retired.
There are very few companies like that today. Companies
where your memories are good, and you still remember customers, old friends and
In the last few years, it seemed every time I walked through
the Tyrone Store the memories came flooding back a little stronger.
I'll miss the old store. Those high concrete and marble
walls, the soaring ceilings and most of all I miss the customers who used to
rely on us for the products and services they could trust.
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Where Ethics Is a Word with No Meaning By Jim Bleyer
In keeping with The Tampa Bay Times effort to make itself relevant in the digital age, the paper and its parent the Poynter Institute continue to conceal important facts from readers while attempting to control the local political narrative behind the scenes.
A poll, published Friday, May 19 in the Times digital edition regarding the 2019 Tampa mayoral election is the latest transgression in a long series of unethical “news” stories in Tampa Bay’s lone surviving daily. The breaching of journalistic standards by Times-Poynter has become so commonplace that we at Tampa Bay Beat have lost count of them.
A cratering bottom line in operations and waning political influence seem to have been the triggers for a corrupted editorial policy that has smothered any semblance of propriety over the past decade. Big advertisers are always lauded, never questioned, in Times “news” pages. See Baker vs. Kriseman if you have any doubts. Or Jeffrey Vinik’s blurred “vision,” heavily subsidized with government funding.
But back to the poll: It was commissioned by Barry Edwards, a “political consultant,” according to the Times’ manufactured news story. But most readers don’t know Edwards is listed as a faculty member of the Poynter Institute and on the Poynter Foundation board. Nowhere accompanying the faux polling article in the digital Times edition is that stated.
A disingenuous Edwards was quoted in the article as saying that he commissioned the poll “just for his own knowledge.” Laughable.
The polling choices all have been projected as candidates except former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio who has shown no interest publicly in re-entering the political arena.
With 41 percent of the vote, Iorio led an eight-candidate field, poll results showed. Oddly, there were no percentages given for the other candidates: City Council members Yoli Capin, Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez, public relations executive Bill Carlson, former police Chief Jane Castor, former state Rep. Ed Narain and developer Ed Turanchik.
Edwards said, “If she gets in, it’ll be Pamelot,” no doubt echoing the wet dream of the Poynter Institute and its foundation. It appears Edwards also gets advice for his trite quotes from Times headline writers who failed to move the needle at The Improv’s Open Mic Night.
A second poll question, not on the minds of any voter, was also posed: would you support a change in the city charter to allow Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who faces a term limit, to run for re-election?
Buckhorn and the Times are a mutual ballwashing society but the mayor has burned more bridges than Attila the Hun. It will take more than the Times, discredited by most Hillsborough County residents, for the voters to change the city charter and allow an ill-tempered miscreant to run for a third term.
The story said that although “60 percent said the city was headed in the right direction, the charter change lost 50-42 percent.”
Obviously the poll was steered in favor of two Tampa personages that the Times knows it can control because it has done so in the past. The honchos at Poynter crave a slam dunk; it’s possible some of the others will represent their constituents rather than a morally bankrupt media entity in the next county.
Thankfully, there is a major disconnect between Tampa Bay voters and the craven politicians they elect. See Moving Hillsborough Forward, Greenlight Pinellas, and Go Hillsborough if you don’t believe that. Those initiatives, all heavily promoted by the Times ad nauseum, were beaten handily by an engaged citizenry adept at utilizing social media.
Poynter’s deviousness knows no restraint. In an online publication called “Alive TampaBay,” a September, 2016 article quotes Edwards raving about the election victory of State Rep. Darryl Rouson. The story identifies Edwards as a strategist for the Rouson campaign but an accompanying bio makes no mention of his link to Poynter.
And there’s no way a reader would know that Alive TampaBay is connected to Poynter. Greg Truax, publisher on the masthead, is also listed as a Poynter faculty member. He too sits on the board of the Poynter Foundation.
Various online business resources list Alive TampaBay as being formed in 2005 and located at 3012 West Villa Rosa Park, a couple of blocks from Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa. Truax is listed as the frontman. Cross
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A big crowd turned out for Rick Baker, St. Pete Mayoral
candidate, first rally at Lake Maggiore Park in South St. Petersburg.
Baker did not make a formal speech instead spent the
afternoon talking with old friends, former supporters and a lot of new people who are looking forward to supporting
Baker's third run for Mayor of St. Petersburg.
It was a busy event with food and lots of candid conversations
with the former Mayor.
Quoting from the More article: Karl Nurse seemed to sum
it all up very well, "Candidly, I don't put a lot of credence on these
reports. The impact of building something is pretty straightforward," he
said, referring to the $17.5 million in wages expected from the 365 full-time
jobs that would be created during the district's construction."
Follow on deduction, the rest of the report is just so
much hype for the Kriseman reelection campaign to quote.
Currently, the City is waiting on some permits from the
Army Corps of Engineers. If the Corp really wanted to serve the Citizens of St.
Petersburg well, It would require a seawall of sufficient height to prevent the
climate change and the rising sea water level Kriseman so willing adopts from
flooding the project before it is half way through its useful life.
Then there is the proposed breakwater that will quite
possibly present the Vinoy basin as a dead pool while disrupting the normal
tidal flow along the coastal area of the New Pier.
Let's hope the Corp takes a look at all of that.
The economic Impact Study makes a number of assumptions.
The most questionable one is that people who visit here
will actually come down to the New Pier, and those who live here will want to
fight the traffic while driving through the concrete canyons of downtown St.
Pete in search of the Pier and a parking spot to bring their visiting friends
to the "New Pier Experience."
Given the fact that many of the people you talk to think
the whole thing is a complete failure, my prediction would be it will be a
mediocre draw for the first six to nine months or one winter season, and then the
Pier becomes a curiosity that people tend to avoid rather than visit.
When the final cost is calculated, if it ever is, and
the annual subsidy, upkeep and maintenance become clear in a real budget number,
only then will the citizens of St. Pete finally know just how bad Kriseman and
his band of political cronies actually hosed the people over.
Until then look for more glowing Impact Studies and Reports paid for by the Citizens of St. Petersburg and used by the Kriseman for Mayor Campaign.
It's just more convenient to use my car to
get somewhere, especially as a single mother. I can't rely on public
transportation that doesn't take me directly where I want to go. Carrying
things on transit, like the groceries or other errands, is also challenging.
I work for a
charter school as a substitute. When I get a phone call, I have to be there
ASAP. I can't stand around waiting for a bus that only might come on time.
After work, I have to go pick up my kids from school right away. Again, I can't
take bus for that. It takes too long.
The real problem with public transportation initiatives
such as the pending bill to redo TBARTA into a taxing authority is they don't
get the fact that no matter how big, how much it sparkles public transportation
in the Tampa Bay areas will always remain the transportation choice of last
Recently, there has been much made of the drop in rider
ship on both the HART and PSTA systems. You hear a lot of hyperbole but the
real issue is the economy is better, people who could not afford a car and/or
gasoline now can and they opt out of public transportation as soon as it is
In a densely populated low height development area like
much of Tampa Bay and the surrounding areas where the defining lines between
residential, retail, industrial and commercial are frequently blurred, last
century transportation solutions will not be cost effective.
The great goal of Janet Long, Pinellas County
Commissioner, and her sidekick Senator Jack Latvala of a light-rail system running
through the Bay area is just simply not feasible. It is a 1990s idea that was
not a very good idea in the 90s.
TBARTA, decades in existence, 10s of millions spent and
no viable product or plan yet on the street is not the answer.
Changing the name and giving them taxing authority without
public oversight will just create a political nightmare of cronyism and corruption
that will produce no results.
For now, Governor Scott needs to let this one die or simply VETO
it with a message to all those who pursue mass transit and the political contributions
that go with it to come up with a plan that works and keeps the public in charge.
Barbara Haselden, the leader of the 2014 No Tax For Tracks effort to defeat a 1% sales tax increase for light rail in Pinellas County, has filed to run for the Pinellas county commission in District 6. The seat is currently occupied by John Morroni, who has said he will not run for re-election in 2018.
Morroni has held the seat since being elected to it in 2000. he has suffered several bouts with cancer in the last few years.
“I’ve been very involved in county policy making at the grassroots level for many years,” Haselden told the Guardian. “I’m very excited to represent the taxpayers in District 6 on the Pinellas County Commission.”
“For nearly 30 years, I’ve been a successful insurance executive and business owner in St. Petersburg, employing salaried staff and agents since 1989,” Haselden continued.
“The first action I will take as county commissioner is to make a motion to place a referendum on the ballot for an 8 year term limit on Pinellas County Commissioners, with time served counting, so the citizens of Pinellas County can once again get to vote on how long commissioners may be on the board,” Haselden said.
72% of voters approved 8-year term limits in 1996, but the county commission never put those term limits in to the county charter after court challenges to the ballot language. The county commission itself had approved the ballot language. A subsequent legal challenge alleging foul play failed to make the 8-year term limits stick.
Haselden is running as a Republican. The only other announced candidate to date in this race is State Rep. Larry Ahern, also a Republican. Ahern is term limited after the term he is currently serving in the Florida Legislature.
Candidates may qualify for the ballot by gathering approximately 1,400 petitions or by paying a qualifying fee. The qualifying fee for partisan candidates is 6% of the annual salary of the office sought, which in this case will be just under $6,000.
Should both candidates qualify, the primary will be in August of 2018. Since the primary is more that a year away, there will surely be many more developments in this and others races.
As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide. Please like our Facebook page to find out when we publish our articles.