The mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater met Thursday to discuss the state of the bay, highlighting their work as a region rather than individual cities.
“We do work very well together here in the Tampa Bay area on all levels, not just from city to city, but city with county and on the state level as well,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman echoed Castor’s sentiments.
“I think that’s something I think the three of us are committed to,” Kriseman said. “Because we do recognize the impact on our region, and how much better we’ll be if we’re all working together.”
The mayors also reviewed their pandemic response, and emphasized the importance of regional coordination in mitigation policy, including mask mandates and in-person business regulations.
But, the mayors also recognized that communication was a bit patchy at the onslaught of the pandemic.
“Communication has been, in some ways, the biggest challenge that we’ve had,” Kriseman said. “I think one thing that that we’ve done a pretty good job at, but I think we could always do better in trying to coordinate our policies and the orders that we put in place.”
The mayors also discussed the region’s potential, with sights set on growing the area as a whole by marketing the Tampa Bay region to investors and businesses.
“We can market ourselves as a region, and each has different characteristics — Clearwater is different from St Pete, which is different from Tampa,” Castor said. “But together, we have it all; we have whatever any organization, business, family or individual are looking for.”
“As leaders, we need to make certain that the communication between all the economic development authorities are working together to make sure that we capture opportunities,” Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard added.
Post-pandemic, the mayors are optimistic about transit opportunities and a new way of working.
Kriseman, along with Hibbard and Castor, plan to welcome telecommuting as a new mode of work, which could cut down on necessary office space.
As far as transit, Hibbard and Kriseman both anticipate that capital projects may have to be delayed, but they are hopeful new methods of work will help cut down on traffic. Overall, though, the mayors appeared optimistic moving forward.
“I believe that we will come out stronger than ever,” Hibbard said. “But we need to lay the groundwork for that.”