Few can disagree that Dr. Kiran Patel, Tampa’s prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist, deserves to be Florida Trend’s “Floridian of the Year.”
The announcement came this week and will be featured in the magazine’s January issue.
It should be noted that naming Patel as a man of the year, while well-earned, comes with no small degree of irony.
Patel and his wife Dr. Pallavi Patel are former cardiologists. Kiran Patel is also a real estate developer and executive who made millions investing in health care companies.
In September 2017, the Patels announced they would spend $200-million to build a Clearwater campus for Nova Southeastern University. Over the years, the pair has given more than $240 million for Florida arts, education and health care.
There is no doubt that through their influence and generosity, the couple has made an indelible mark on the Tampa Bay region.
Being a part-investor in the Tampa Bay Times didn’t hurt, either.
In July, the financially struggling Times announced that a group of eight local stakeholders would lend the newspaper $1.5-million each through an entity called FBN Partners. Securing the $12-million loan — which could expand to as much as $15 million — would be a mortgage on buildings and 27 acres of land at the paper’s printing facilities in St. Petersburg.
Afterward, the Times named four of the eight investors, saying the rest wished to stay anonymous.
A few months later, Kiran Patel was revealed as one of those unnamed FBN Partners. He said the investment — suggested by Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash — offered an opportunity to support his local newspaper, which Patel felt is an essential institution in large metropolitan areas.
For Patel, the decision was easy, made “five minutes” after Tash began his pitch.
And now this not-so-secret lender has become Floridian of the Year — by Florida Trend, a magazine owned by the Tampa Bay Times.
While Patel’s honor is indeed deserved, the irony of choosing one of the Times’ investors more than overshadows its complete lack of surprise.