This is an Op/Ed piece from Local Contributor Christen Hailey, please share your thoughts in comments below.
Time to celebrate! Tampa has recently been named to the list of 100 of the World’s Best City Brands report, compiled by Resonance Consultancy. We can finally be known for more than strip clubs, Florida Man, and a painfully mediocre football team.

Photo courtesy of Free to Use Photo Gallery/Tampa

I recently saw Mayor Buckhorn's weekly review about Tampa where he proudly extolled our inclusion in this prestigious list. How could this possibly happen, you may be asking yourself, seeing as how half this town floods after only a brief rainstorm, our elected officials are voting to destroy a burgeoning, vital urban core in favor of another useless damned road for rich people, and the hipsters over in highrise condos in downtown St. Pete laugh themselves to sleep at us every single night? Tampa faced some pretty stiff competition from major cosmopolitan locations from around the globe. How did we make the cut?

In the 2017 World’s Best City Brands Report, Resonance ranked the world’s best city brands using a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 20 areas that they grouped into the six core categories of Place, Product, Programming, People, Prosperity, and Promotion. Miami ranked number 31, and Orlando ranked number 45. Tampa slides in at number 81 out of 100, beating Naples, Italy; Bogota, Colombia; and Lima, Peru. The top five cities overall are exactly what you’d expect - London, Singapore, New York, Paris, and Sydney.

Tampa’s highest score was in the People section - 56 out of a possible 100. This section focuses on diversity - the more diverse a city’s population is, the more it produces global ideas on a local scale. Resonance looked at data on the percentage of our population born in foreign countries - and we scored higher here than Washington, Hong Kong, Berlin, and Moscow. Someone should tell this to the president-elect. 

We also did really well (59/100) in the Place category. Resonance states that “both the natural and the built environment of a city are key factors in shaping our perception of a destination. From how often the sun shines, to the air quality, to the safety of the streets, a number of readily measurable, often cited factors influence our perceptions of a city.” We scored higher than Denver, San Juan, Cincinnati, and most European cities in this category, proving that the judges were in town on one of those picture-perfect days when it wasn’t as hot as the surface of the sun, it wasn’t pouring down rain, and Bayshore Boulevard didn’t smell like a diaper full of shrimp. Our homicide/ violent crime rate is relatively low compared to the size of our population, and we do have some absolutely gorgeous parks and neighborhoods.

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The Big Guava’s lowest score was in Programming - that’s shopping, nightlife, restaurants and cultural and performing arts experiences recommended by locals and visitors. Tampa ranked near the bottom of the list in this category, coming in at number 98. Despite our vibrant theater community, the tsunami of James Beard-award winning restaurants in Seminole Heights, Gasparilla everything, and the hot casserole of crazy that is Ybor City, we just aren’t quite there yet. 

Are you listening, Mayor Buckhorn? It’s time to spend more money on arts, culture, and urban revitalization, and less on a sports ball team whose owners don’t even live here and highways that are obsolete five years before completion. With your help, maybe Tampa can rise to  #80 next year!