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Pinellas County Commission joins opposition to Tampa Hillsborough EDC’s regional-focused name change

The name suggests regionalism; its mission does not.

The Pinellas County Commission is joining calls for the newly renamed Tampa Bay Economic Development Council to either come up with a more appropriate name or go back to its old one — the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation.

The EDC assumed the new regionally-focused name earlier this year, but under its rebranding plan did not intend to expand its scope of advocacy to the entire region and will continue working on behalf of economic development interests in Tampa and Hillsborough County.

“Years of effort and expense have established ‘Tampa Bay’ as a regional brand for all economic development interests in our area,” Pinellas County Commission Board Chair Karen Seel wrote in a letter to the EDC on behalf of the commission. “We feel strongly your action undermines that investment and does great harm to the progress we have made on regional collaboration.”

Seel’s letter references two examples of groups working under the “Tampa Bay” umbrella to bring improvements to the entire region. One, Global Tampa Bay, promotes the region to international customers and clients in hopes of boosting business and economic activity in the area. The other, Team Tampa Bay, unites economic development organizations throughout the seven-county Tampa Bay region by promoting all seven counties to site selection companies across the nation to boost business location in the region.

“The decision to assume the global ‘Tampa Bay’ brand puts these and other collaborative programs in jeopardy,” Seel wrote.

The Commission is asking the re-branded EDC to “reconsider” its name change “in order to eliminate confusion” in regional marketing efforts.

Earlier this month the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce changed its name to the Greater Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, but like the EDC, did not include plans to expand its advocacy beyond Tampa.

Several groups have come out against either name change including AMPLIFY Clearwater and the Pasco County Commission. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman also opposed the EDC’s name change.

Despite pushback from the regional community, neither organization has agreed to cancel the name changes or shift its narrow local focus to a regional one.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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