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Pasco County Commission calls on the Tampa Hillsborough EDC to cancel its regional-focused name change

The new name reflects regionalism, but the agency does not.

The Pasco County Board of County Commissioners is joining the cacophony of Tampa Bay area business leaders and economic development advocates in opposing the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation’s plans to rebrand.

Under its plan, the Tampa Hillsborough EDC will change its name to the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, a name that reflects regionalism. However, the agency has no plans to expand its advocacy beyond the boundaries of Hillsborough County.

While the Board appreciates your desire to refresh the brand of the Council, the use of ‘Tampa Bay’ should be jointly shared by the region and not usurped by any one EDC in the Tampa Bay area,” Pasco County Commissioners wrote in a letter to the EDC. “We have all worked hard to create a favorable economic climate for business in the region. It would be unfortunate for the region as a whole to be splintered based on the unintended consequences of this name change.”

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce also recently announced it would be changing its name to the Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 5 to reflect growing sentiments of regionalism. However, it does not mean the group will expand its advocacy efforts outside of its current Tampa/Hillsborough model. Instead, it will merely support regional issues.

The moves have been met with consternation from business advocacy groups and leaders in other parts of the region.

AMPLIFY Clearwater, the new group established by merging the Clearwater Beach and Clearwater chambers of commerce to better reflect the city as a whole, also sent a letter to the Tampa chamber lamenting the name changes.

Critics of the pending name changes argue the groups are leveraging positive sentiments of regionalism without plans to actually work for the region. Both the Tampa chamber and the EDC will continue with primary missions in support of Hillsborough County and Tampa.

That their name reflects the entire region, many worry, will send a misleading message that the groups represent other neighboring cities and counties.

“It is respectfully requested that the Tampa Hillsborough EDC reconsider this name change and explore other strategies for updating the market branding of the Council,” Pasco Commissioners wrote. “The Board of County Commissioners is confident, in retrospect, that you will realize the ‘Tampa Bay’ brand belongs to all of us in the region and should not be exclusively used by any individual economic development organization.”

Despite push back from many in the region, neither the Tampa Hillsborough EDC nor the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has backed off of plans to rebrand.

The EDC is already using its new name. The Chamber plans to begin using its new name Dec. 5.

Pasco County Commissioners Ronald Oakley, Kathryn Starkey, Jack Mariana, Mike Moore and Mike Wells all signed the letter.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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