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Muma College of Business Plays a Major Role in Tampa's Economic Advisory Committee's Findings, Recommendations

By Keith Morelli

Members of the advisory committee

TAMPA (May 12, 2021) -- The city of Tampa is moving forward with a plan to improve the quality of life for its citizens by promoting inclusion, economic growth, poverty reduction, racial equality commitments and emphasizing educational opportunity.

The data and recommendations of how to go about achieving these goals came from a committee that was co-chaired by Moez Limayem, the Lynn Pippenger Dean of the USF Muma College of Business. Limayem said the college’s faculty and graduate students played a big part in collecting, reviewing and interpreting the data on which the city will implement policies to move forward.

Michael Bloom, Much of the data came from insights developed by Shivendu Shivendu, a professor in the college’s School of Information Systems and Management, and a handful of graduate students who contributed to the annual State of the Region report issued by the Tampa Bay Partnership. While that data focused on a wide area from Sarasota County to Citrus County, the task for the Tampa Economic Advisory Committee, which was co-chaired by Michael Bloom, associate vice president in the USF Office of Corporate Partnerships, was to narrow the scope to focus on the incorporated city of Tampa alone. That required some tweaking of the data, Limayem said.

“We started doing benchmarking with other cities and narrowing down the metrics to focus on what is going on in the city of Tampa,” Limayem said. “We were able to do that because of the expertise of the faculty and students in the Muma College of Business.”

The committee, impaneled by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, published its findings last month. Castor already has begun to assemble task forces to examine the recommendations and find ways to implement procedures.

“I am thrilled to see how this data can be used,” Limayem said. “There is an old saying, ‘What gets measured gets done.’

“My hope is that the hard work will start under the leadership of the mayor,” Limayem said. “Many of the recommendations will require the cooperation of many organizations. The city already is partnering with Career Source” to examine employment issues.

Addressing the problems in the city will lead to prosperity, he said. Officials cannot ignore the data.

“When companies want to expand to new cities and areas, this is the data they look at,” he said. “We can ignore that and continue looking at vanity rankings that make us feel good or we can understand the facts, the data, and work together as a community to move the needle on these important metrics.”

The Economic Advisory Committee began work in August 2020 and, according to the city’s website, the challenge was to undertake three key tasks. First was to assess the most widely used and universal ‘best practices’ engaged by cities to measure social and economic progress. Second was to identify metrics that reflect areas of importance for the city, as a community, to focus on improvement. Third, was to recommend tactical and strategic initiatives to improve the selected metrics over time.

Besides the State of the Region data, the committee also reviewed recent findings and recommendations from the city’s Housing Affordability Advisory Committee, the Workforce Development Advisory Committee and the 2020 Workforce Housing Initiative from the Tampa Bay Chamber. Also in the mix was an overview of resources available from Career Source Tampa Bay, a pivotal partner to the city and the community to help close the regional skills gap.

The committee identified specific measures that, if improved, could positively influence the focus area:

  •          Inclusive economic growth
  •          Raise per capita income
  •          Lower unemployment rates
  •          Reduce poverty
  •          Improve transportation to work
  •          Improve digital access
  •          Commit to racial equity
  •          Close the racial poverty rate gap
  •          Boost the racial labor force participation gap
  •          Provide for educational opportunity
  •          Improve fourth/eighth grade math Florida Standards Assessment (FSA)
  •          Improve high School graduation rates
  •          Raise educational attainment (bachelor's degree and above

 

The second key recommendation that is already underway will help drive improvement toward unemployment and particularly racial gap unemployment. Tampa's Defined Readiness Ensuring Added Momentum (DREAM) initiative will provide year-round employment opportunities for up to 50 young adults while enabling them to learn critical job skills and explore various career options. This program will be housed in the city's Parks and Recreation Department, funded through a partnership with CareerSource Tampa Bay.

“The measures identified for targeted action,” the report said, “are intended to break the cycle of poor performance and enable the city to grow its economy across all neighborhoods and communities.”

Castor, at a press conference announcing the committee’s recommendations, said the city is focused on transformational change, “to make our communities a place where individuals can thrive, can find economic prosperity and can have equal access to opportunities across the board."

Limayem said the time is now to make systemic changes.

"We need to come together, all of us in this great city, and work on moving the needle,” Limayem said. “If we are aware of the challenges, we can make a difference."