While the event was slated as a "Millennial" event, the 900+ people who gathered at Amalie Arena on the evening of June 13 included community leaders and professionals from all generations.
People were drawn to the "1st Annual Millennial Impact Forum" not just to learn about a generation, but also to learn about the future of Tampa.
The event featured a panel of community influencers and leaders who took the stage to share their stories and experiences about working, starting businesses, running for office, giving back, and helping develop the the direction of Tampa's growth.
Community Leaders Lead the Discussion
The panel, moderated by President of The Blind Tiger Cafe and Black & Denim Apparel Company, Roberto Torres, featured a varied and diverse group which included Tampa’s prominent community leader and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jeff Vinik.
In Amalie Arena, the building he owns, Vinik spoke about the things that drew him to Tampa. Vinik, who purchased 53 acres of downtown and has a $3 billion investment plan that will reinvent the Channelside district of Tampa, talked about the potential he sees in the city.
“This city, this area, in baseball terms is in the 2nd or 3rd inning of its growth. It’s got so much potential. It’s still young. People can have an impact here and really, have an effect on where we go as a community,” Vinik said.
Vinik expressed that he isn’t just focused real estate and residential development in downtown (although that growth alone is massive -- by 2027, Vinik said over 30,000 people will be living downtown versus the less than 10,000 people that currently live there). He is also focused on business development.
Tech Accelerator Program Will Bring New Growth to Tampa
Vinik, in partnership with Dreamit and Bill Gates' Cascade Investments, is launching Urban Tech, a tech accelerator program which will bring ten companies to Tampa in the fall. If they are successful, they plan to expand and bring 40 companies the following year. Vinik would like to see that progress continue to compound in growth bringing more startups, talent, and business opportunities to the Tampa area.
Cesar Hernandez, head of Government Relations at HART, also talked about tech's influence on Tampa, particularly how it will impact transportation.
Hernandez traveled around the country to areas such as Silicon Valley to search for tech solutions to solve transportation problems in the Tampa area. His advocacy led to two new programs: Hyperlink, the world’s first private-public partnership that combines ride-sharing technology and public transportation, and a new public transportation corridor that will run autonomous, self-driving vehicles on a 2.7-mile stretch of downtown. Hyperlink, which utilizes Tesla Model X SUVs launched in April 2017, and the autonomous ride corridor is scheduled to launch later this year.
Technology and transportation were just two of the topics discussed the forum. Community involvement, media, professional development, and government were all discussed by the panel which also included:
Mike Griffin, Chairman of Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
Erin Aebel, Partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP
Sing Hurt, Owner at Anise Global Gastrobar Restaurant
Andrew Machota, Owner at New Town Connections
Tim Moore, Owner at Diamond View Studios
Tammy Charles, Sr. Manager of Corporate Relations at Metropolitan Ministries
Rena Frazier, Communications Director at Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office
The event was host by New Town Connections, a social club for young professionals who are looking to meet other like-minded people in their community and StandUp Tampa, a project of the Tampa Hillsborough EDC