Get a Front Row Seat for Tampa Bay

This photograph is of Downtown Tampa and Tampa...

A very exciting and unprecedented media effort that is taking place here in Tampa and is incorporated with the Republican National Convention will launch in about 10 days. It is called Front Row Tampa Bay! I want to publicize it, because the more people around the nation that take the time to watch it, the greater the effect will be.

According to their website, Front Row Tampa Bay, presented by the Tampa Bay Partnership will promote regional and Florida businesses with interactive business panels, featuring regional, state and national VIPs in business, industry, and the public arena, live-streamed to a targeted list of business and political leaders from a theatre complex located nearby the convention site. (Of course you can sign up to watch too, or maybe even be part of the show)

Programming will include focus on the key business sectors and leaders from Florida and Tampa Bay, commentary from top political leaders, and a look at life in Tampa Bay and Florida.

It will be interesting to see what the overall impact of the convention is on our local economy, and this effort ought to plant some seeds that  will bear fruit over time. Although Florida is a top tourist destination because of its great weather and wonderful attractions, the media is having so much fun spinning the threats of hurricanes and making summer in Florida sound like slogging through the Amazon. In reality, most people from other cities visit and dream about what it would be like to do business in a place that combines great weather, a diverse culture, and tons of natural beauty.

I’ll try to do a few blog updates as I wander around Tampa during the convention, and attempt to determine whether my post on RNC parties ends up being correct. But if you are a business person or thinking about moving to Tampa, your best source for true on the ground reporting that extends beyond all of the political banter will be Front Row Tampa Bay and their Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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Loosen Your Belt – Dine Tampa Bay Coming Up in August

Oystercatchers Key Lime Pie courtesy of: Dine Tampa Bay’s – Tampa Bay Taste Bud Blog

Do you ever get intimidated by the daunting task of trying new restaurants around your town, knowing where to start in finding them, and most importantly what to order when you get there so you get a true taste what the chef is most proud of?

The Basics: Dine Tampa Bay is a two week event from August 3rd-17th that allows you the opportunity to visit over 100 of the bay area’s top award winning restaurants and enjoy a prix fixe, 3-course meal that includes some of their signature dishes.

Price: $25, $35, $45…you choose

It’s So Easy: The Dine Tampa Bay Website makes this adventure so much fun, and the over-organizer in you will definitely appreciate the user-friendly search criteria available. You can simply pick a price, choose a restaurant, and reserve your table…all online. Or you can even narrow things down by cuisine and neighborhood.

It’s easy to view the menus and a map for each restaurant. That will come in handy if you decide to sleep in your car and spend the two weeks trying every restaurant, needing to chart the most efficient course. That would be an admirable goal indeed!

Whether you enjoy one or all, let me know here or on Twitter where you went and what your thoughts are!

Here are Sample Listings from 3 of My Favorites:

The Melting Pot of Tampa

The Melting Pot of Tampa

13164 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL, 33618

(813) 962-6936 | Website  $25

I used to live on Melting Pot fondue when up in Ocala, but Tampa is where it all started! Includes a salad course, 3 choices of meat fondue, and your choice of chocolate fondue including my favorite the Flaming Turtle.  Menu

Cassis American Brasserie

Cassis American Brasserie

170 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701

727-827-2927 | Website  $35

Cassis American Brasserie serves up “Continental Comfort Cuisine” in a vibrant, friendly atmosphere. Chef, Jeremy Duclut, revisits American classics with an innovative twist, and flavors his cuisine with subtle elements from his traditional French training. Since I lived nearby the town in Provence that is the namesake for this restaurant, I had to include it. All of their food is simple yet unique…I’m looking forward to starting with the cantaloupe soup with crispy Prosciutto de Parma. Menu

Oystercatchers

Oystercatchers

2900 Bayport Dr., Tampa, FL, 33761

(813) 207-6815 | Website  $45

Oystercatchers is located on the shores of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and has one of the best brunches in town and is where we had our engagement party! For this package though, I would suggest the fresh catch blackened with one of their signature sauces like a fruit chutney, and don’t forget to finish it off with one of the best Key Lime pies in Tampa. Menu

Question: Which Dine Tampa restaurants would you like to try?

Follow tampatlanta on Twitter

For the latest commentary on business, culture, food, travel, and great deals in Tampa, Atlanta, and anywhere in between, as well as some of my own personal banter, please follow me on Twitter.

Question: How do you utilize Twitter to update your blog readers?

Get Rid of Gridlock? Part 2 – Case Study Tampa

courtesy of Beltline.org

On July 31st, Atlantans will vote on the Atlanta Beltline and Transportation Referendum mentioned in Part 1 of my post Get Rid of Gridlock. We struck down a similar measure in Tampa/Hillsborough County over a year ago. There are many who criticize Tampa residents for not being forward thinking and not caring about mass-transit. I’m not one of those, I think everyone in Florida realizes how useful a regional transit system would be, they just want it to make common sense first and be done right. Here are four reasons in my opinion why the pitch for a tax might work in Atlanta and didn’t work for Tampa:

1) The BeltLine is truly visionary, they have done a great job with videos, renderings, and maps communicating what the BeltLine will be. Progress is already being made. They are turning vacant land into parks along the BeltLine so people can begin to imagine the possibilities. Runners are already having races along the BeltLine. The project is also very innovative, and a fascinating reuse of existing infrastructure that yearns for revitalization.

2) As mentioned above, Atlanta has been able to collaborate across 10 counties to come up with a plan and a referendum. The Tampa Bay Area has not been able to do that, with authorities in every county butting heads against each other and regional authorities that couldn’t get consensus from the counties. On Hillsborough County alone there were at least 4 groups involved in the lobbying for the tax and they did a pathetic job of creating one coherent vision with one common set of renderings/maps. And that was just Hillsborough County.

3) Atlanta already has the experience of MARTA and its citizens rally around mass-transit in theory especially due to Atlanta traffic. Atlanta sees the future and wants to grasp it. It is part of the culture. There seems to be less of a concern for frivolous spending in Atlanta and more of a sense of trust in local government and public/private partnerships. Recently, local media and government cracked down on the spending/accounting of the BeltLine team before anything egregious happened. All parties are working together on transparency, and that will be critical.

4) None of the plans for light rail in Tampa Bay made any sense financially, although no public transportation plans ever really do in terms of dollars and cents. The value of course are in the long term intangible benefits for future development and economic growth that can only be estimated, and in my opinion this was not done effectively by the agencies involved in Hillsborough County.

I think Tampa has a lot to learn from cities like Atlanta about collaboration, innovation, and planning. In this case though, I think the team in Atlanta could learn some good lessons from what did not work here in Tampa.

Question: What else is holding Tampa back?

Keep Your Shoes On

Airside C Terminal at Tampa International Airp...

Airside C Terminal at Tampa International Airport (Wikipedia)

As anyone who has traveled through Tampa Airport knows, it is one of the top ranked airports in the entire world. Anyone who has traveled through Atlanta Hartsfield knows that it has the most domestic flights. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced earlier this week that Tampa International Airport will now join Hartsfield as one of the 18 airports that has implemented TSA Pre✓™, a passenger prescreening initiative, used to make frequent travelers’ lives easier and focus resources on the travelers that the agency is much less familiar with. In Tampa, select Delta Air Lines frequent flyers and members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler programs are now eligible to participate in the initiative when traveling domestically. Airlines currently participating in other airports include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and US Airways.

According to TSA, “if TSA determines a passenger qualifies for TSA Pre✓™, information is embedded in the barcode on the passenger’s boarding pass. TSA reads the barcode at the designated checkpoint, and the passenger may be referred to the TSA Pre✓™ lane to undergo expedited screening, which could include being able to leave on shoes, light outerwear and belts, and allowing laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bags to remain inside carry-on baggage.” That said, TSA always incorporates random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no passenger is guaranteed expedited screening.

To learn more, and sign up for the program, check out the TSA Website. I love the Tampa Airport Facebook Page!

Question: Will this initiative be valuable to you? What are some innovative ways they can make occasional travelers’ trips through the security lines even smoother?

Joy in Both Places

Joy in Both Places

Now I can listen to my favorite Christian music station in both Tampa and Atlanta. Check out their perfect combination of inspirational music, celebrity interviews, upbeat morning show with Dave, Bill, and Carmen, and evenings with JR. I highly suggest it! Don’t live in Tampa or Atlanta, listen online at http://www.thejoyfm.com

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Tampa may NOT be a haven for RNC parties!

All we heard in Tampa a year ago was how we needed to either get out of town early or make dinner reservations immediately for the week of Tampa’s Republican National Convention because the rowdy conventioners would attract a host of lobbyists and special interests that love throwing dinners and late night parties. This may still prove to be true, but a recent article by Politico throws some cold water on this idea. You can read the article here that explains that due to Mitt Romney’s bland persona, a poor economy, and a party looking to contrast its responsible image with that of current administration departments like the GSA, most of the lobbying groups will be resorting to professional lunches and other smaller gatherings.

Are you a restaurant or club owner? What are your bookings like for that week?

Our favorite Tampa Bike Shop

imageToday, we picked up the kids’ trailer for my wife’s bike from our friends at Velo Champ. Doug Miller is a Georgia Tech alum that I met through our local Suncoast Alumni Network. His son Jordan is a master craftsman. It’s nice because we know very little about cycling and he takes the time to walk us through our equipment step-by-step.

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Their shop is all about the sport and culture of cycling, and is located in the historic neighborhood of Seminole Heights, reminiscent of Atlanta’s Virginia Highlands with even more of a grassroots feel to it. The neighborhood may not be there yet, but for those folks like the Millers that are working hard to make the Heights a place all its own, nothing beats it!

Plus, if you are gonna go to a bike shop why not go to one with some flair and personality:

image Velo Champ has some nice seats (seriously) and even has an office dog named Radar that guards the place, welcomes guests, and does the book-keeping.

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Below is the finished product! My wife even took our son for a test ride down to the Seminole Heights Garden Center and back!

Are you a resident of Seminole Heights? Tell us more about your neighborhood and why you love it!

WELCOME TO TAMPATLANTA! Population YOU!

Have you ever felt like you were right where you were meant to be, but yearned to know what life would be like if you still lived somewhere you had previously? Have you been really happy in the city in which you live, but find that a little piece of your heart is still in that someplace else? For me, those two places are Tampa and Atlanta!

English: A collection of photos around Tampa

English: A collection of photos around Tampa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Tampa

I grew up in Tampa, Florida like my dad and grandfather before me, roots dating back to the late 19th century when my great-grandfather moved to nearby Plant City from north Florida. I love everything about Tampa Bay from our climate, to our storied history, our beaches, and our industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom ...

Montage of Atlanta images. From top to bottom left to right: Atlanta skyline Georgia State Capitol Olympic Centennial Park Old World of Coca-Cola museum Downtown skyline Turner Field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Atlanta

From an early age I began making trips through Atlanta, always en route it seemed to another southern mecca.

Not until I attended Georgia Tech and made the move to Atlanta did I really get to know the city that would teach me that it is completely possible to be intensely Southern, fiercely innovative, and welcomingly international all at the same time.

I lived in Atlanta for 8 years and strived to understand who and what made the city tick, discover how an Olympic Games could change it forever, and soak up all of the constantly evolving dining, culture, and entertainment that I could. I have traveled to many places in this world, and none of them give me that same thrill that I feel, every time the Atlanta skyline comes into view as I travel north into town on I-75.

Interstate 75

List of crossings of the Saint Lawrence River ...

Over those 8 years from 1997 to 2004 and beyond, I have experienced an intimate fondness for that 500 mile stretch of Interstate 75 between Tampa and Atlanta. Hundreds of trips over the years make turns in the road, rural exits with road-side stands, and even some hills and trees feel like family. Anyone who makes the same trip often, knows what I mean!

Florida Clearwater Beach sunset

Clearwater Beach sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back to Tampa

After graduate school and work in Atlanta, I found myself moving to Ocala, FL to start a company that quickly expanded the rest of the way down to Tampa. This gave me the excuse I needed to return Home.

Everyone knows what Home feels like, not everyone knows the feeling of or has the same experience in, returning home. For me, it was the perfect fit. I soon met my future wife and established a life right where I left off in the sunny city by the Bay. But Atlanta will always be a part of me, and I look for every excuse to return.

I realize I am not the only one that shares a connection between these two great cities, and I hope that this blog will appeal to residents or visitors of either city and any place in between. I ask that you please share your experiences with me! I love both history and visionary city plans for the future, driving and traveling, and hearing the stories of people of all ages. Our destinations in life are crucial, but I find that the road traveled is often where all the scenery is found. WELCOME TO TAMPATLANTA! Population YOU!

Tampa, Florida

Atlanta Skyline

Atlanta Skyline (Photo credit: k1ng)