In 2017, the Tampa Bay Partnership Foundation collaborated with United Way Suncoast and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to produce our inaugural Regional Competitiveness Report: a comprehensive look at the region’s strengths and weaknesses across a diverse set of indicators, measuring our performance against 19 peer and aspirational communities nationwide.
What emerged from this study was a stark acknowledgement of the challenges we face related to talent, particularly compared to our benchmark communities. Our graduation rates, both overall and for economically disadvantaged students, are low. The share of the population, age 16-to-24, that is neither in school nor employed is high. Although our degree production is competitive, the educational attainment of the population 25 years and older is not, and the regional labor force participation rate for the working-age population falls short of our comparison communities and the national average.
To further explore the issue, and work toward addressing these weaknesses, the Partnership’s Council of Governors formed a Regional Talent Working Group, chaired by Judy Genshaft (President, University of South Florida) and Troy Taylor (Chairman and CEO, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida) in 2018, and Judy Genshaft and Scott Fink (Chief Executive Officer, Fink Automotive Group) in 2019. The working group is comprised of more than 30 CEOs and senior HR executives from top employers in Tampa Bay.
The group sought and received a $300,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase to conduct research and develop an actionable regional workforce strategy. Over the course of 2018, the working group gathered labor market data, facilitated stakeholder conversations, mapped the talent supply chain and workforce ecosystem, identified gaps in the system, and developed an implementation plan to launch an employer-led, demand-driven workforce initiative in Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay Works.