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The debate raises a tough question facing the Bay area: should it build on its existing strengths, or shoot for the moon and try to be a hub of biotech companies like Boston?

… The (Tampa) Bay area’s financial sector got started as far back as 1964, when two companies – Raymond & Associates and Robert A. James Investments – merged to create Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg.

Little by little, similar companies began to dip their toes in Tampa Bay…

…But even as Financial Florida was rolling along, people began to wonder if the Bay area was becoming a one-trick pony focused on banks and insurance companies. The industry also had trouble shaking its call-center image.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush and state leaders started eyeing biotechnology firms, hoping to lure scientists to the state to search for cures to cancer and other maladies. Their biggest win was luring a prestigious biotech firm, the Scripps Research Institute, to Palm Beach County…

…By 2005, the state’s economic development agency, Enterprise Florida, and local agencies seemed less interested in building the financial services industry, he said. Government agencies weren’t willing to spend money to market the industry, he added…

This is one of those great newspaper stories that creates a great deal of comment… Click the headline to go to the Tampa Tribune and read the entire story, and don’t forget to read the comments section too.

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