Carole Post doesn’t officially start her new position as Tampa’s Administrator of Development and Economic Opportunity until February, but she’s already hard at work prepping herself for the new job.
Post comes with a development services background, but she admits there are some aspects of her new job for which she could beef up on her expertise.
“Affordable housing, real estate, tourism — I know these worlds well, but I don’t know the particulars of Tampa as well as I could. My first step before joining the city in February is immersing myself in those,” Post said.
Speaking to Florida Politics last week, Post laid out a vision for the city and her role leading development services and economic opportunity that’s just as much about a holistic vision for the city as it is her own department’s success.
“There will be a lot of cross department collaboration,” Post said. “We’ll be doing individual work while also understanding other department’s work to cohesively work toward the same goals.”
The goals are central to Mayor Jane Castor’s emerging visions for the city that are based on five key elements — transportation, development services, workforce development, affordable housing and sustainability and resiliency.
Post will have direct oversight in three of those five areas, but her work will touch all of them — and she’s preparing herself with a spirit of collaboration in mind.
Post understands that workforce development can’t be successful without an equal focus on other things like affordable housing and access to transportation. Likewise, affordable housing won’t work if people can’t access the jobs they need to pay for the homes.
The same can be said for resiliency. A business is not going to want to locate in a city that isn’t taking steps to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change. Nor will they have interest in doing business with a city that doesn’t make it easy for them to do so.
Post’s vision is derived from that thinking.
“If you create an engine that brings businesses, retains businesses, the byproduct is going to raise all boats,” she said.
Post’s work with the city will be largely aligned with recommendations coming out of several advisory committees, tapped during Castor’s first weeks on the job to establish a comprehensive plan that brings all departments together to work toward her five priorities.
Castor announced Post’s position the same day she released findings from her Development Services Advisory Team. Post will oversee most of those recommendations, which include cutting red tape in permitting and other services, better public education and outreach, updating the city’s land development code and increasing transparency and accountability.
Post’s previous work experience positions her well for the tasks she’ll be overseeing with the city. She worked for New York City’s building department for several years both before and after 9/11.
“The buildings department was kind of neglected. It wasn’t effective or efficient,” Post said. “But after 9/11, for all of its tragedy, there was a sort of upside. It created a catalyst to try to do things differently.”
There was department streamlining, a new vision and a new drive for hands-on efforts to rebuild.
“Hopefully I can bring those to bear,” Post said. “We’re all eager to make improvements that can streamline processes and yet recognize that it’s a regulatory body and compliance with codes are also part of the objective.”
Then there’s her work with the University of South Florida in brining the new Morsani College of Medicine to Downtown Tampa. On that project, Post led efforts to collaborate the medical school development with the mass of other development happening around it.
“That’s exposed me, in a beneficial way, to a lot of the actors in this space,” Post said. “It helped me look at how we can solidly work together to achieve the same goals while all going in the same direction.”