USF Magazine Winter 2021

Page 26

Ripple effects: USF assists businesses, prepares a talented workforce

Photo: istock | ipopba

Talent pipeline helps attract businesses to region TAMPA BAY IS ONE OF THE nation’s fastest growing regions and much of that success is associated with the talent pipeline created by USF. Over the past five years, the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council reports it has recruited nearly 60 new companies that have either relocated or expanded operations to Tampa and Hillsborough County for the first time — creating more than 8,000 jobs and generating more than $876 million in capital investment. Among those newly recruited companies are fast-growing tech companies such as Drift, WebstaurantStore, OPSWAT and Fast. “Technology has long been a target industry of the Tampa Bay EDC, but over the past few years we’ve seen a steady increase in interest from tech CEOs, particularly in the sectors of cybersecurity, fintech and health tech who are discovering that Tampa is an ideal place to grow their companies,” says Craig Richard, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council. “Access to a highly skilled pool of talent, fueled by USF’s strong pipeline of diverse technical talent, is the leading factor attracting tech CEOs and companies to our area.” Boston-based cybersecurity analytics firm Rapid7 announced it will open a new office in Tampa, bringing with it 100 jobs. Chairman and CEO Corey Thomas credits USF’s cybersecurity programs and its relationship with MacDill Air Force Base, as many Rapid7 employees are veterans. The company will initially move into Industrious at Sparkman Wharf followed by a permanent location next year. “The university ecosystem, both locally in Tampa and in the broader region, was hugely attractive to us as we began the search for our next office location,” Thomas says. “At Rapid7, we’re committed to investing in our people early in their careers to help them achieve success in tech. We’ve been deeply impressed by the leadership at USF, and its robust pool of talented young professionals is a tremen26


dous asset to the community. We look forward to partnering with the university to continue building momentum for Tampa as the next big technology hub.” TheIncLab, which relocated to Ybor City from Washington, D.C., last year, is expanding its footprint in the region with 40 new hires on the horizon. The artificial intelligence and data visualization company is expected to work closely with the USF Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI + X), an interdisciplinary research and education center focused on the intersection of artificial intelligence and areas such as health care, finance, manufacturing and cybersecurity. The institute is also conducting research with a number of other AI corporations. “USF plays a critical role in Tampa’s emergence as a magnet for entrepreneurs and innovative business startups and expansions,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says. “The USF talent pipeline and cutting-edge expertise in bio/life sciences, technology, cyber security and so much more are central parts of Tampa Bay’s appeal to business leaders across the globe.” The USF Muma College of Business just forged a multi-year partnership with Tampa Bay Wave to launch the FinTech|X Accelerator. The program is designed to assist startups in the financial technology industry, which includes areas such as online banking systems, crypto exchanges and crowd-funding platforms. “This program embodies St. Petersburg’s Grow Smarter strategy by focusing on the intersection of financial services and technology,” says J.P. DuBuque, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. “We’re seeing that nearly all financial service companies in our market are either significantly leveraging technology or are truly fintech companies. FinTech|X will allow us to showcase our thought leadership in the space and attract innovative entrepreneurs and growing companies to our region.” - TINA MEKETA | USF News

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