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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 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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