Friday, October 23, 2009

Greater Tampa Chamber to sever development arm


Published: October 23, 2009

TAMPA - The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and its economic development arm, the Committee of One Hundred, are splitting up. The separation, both groups say, will make them stronger.

The chamber won't be hindered in taking stands on public policy issues because it no longer will receive public money. The committee will be able to focus exclusively on attracting jobs and industry to the Tampa area.

"Operating as two separate entities will allow each organization to function at its highest level," Henry Gonzalez III, chairman of the chamber, said in a written statement. "It will provide the chamber with greater autonomy and a stronger voice on public policy issues, and we will continue to focus on workforce development, small business, and leadership programs to strengthen the economic prosperity of Hillsborough County."

The Committee of One Hundred, rebranded the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., will focus on job creation, business retention, recruiting companies and growing business sectors such as life sciences, international trade and financial services.

It will be operated autonomously from the chamber. The development corporation will be launched with projected revenue in excess of $1.3 million, including $288,000 from Tampa, $450,000 from Hillsborough County and funding from about 100 private companies.

The timing of the restructuring, the groups say, was tied to new budget years of the two local governments.

"We will serve both public and private sector investors who want their funding aimed specifically at competing for jobs in a global economy and selecting sites for target industries within Hillsborough County," said Mark House, chairman of the new corporation.

House said he wants to focus on jobs in the medical, biotechnology and financial services sectors.

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