Monday Morning Memo

Monday, January 27, 2020

Turn in your Gasparilla beads for free admission to the Florida Aquarium

Turns out those leftover Gasparilla beads are actually worth their weight in gold.

The Florida Aquarium is offering free or discounted prices on admission, depending on how many pounds of beads you bring in.

According to a press release, from now until Jan. 31, guests who bring 10 pounds of beads get $10 off their admission, 20 pounds equals $20 off admission. Start a monopoly, collect 30 pounds or more and admission is free.

The Aquarium donates the beads to Macdonald Training Center, an educational center for the disabled, where they sort the beads and resell them to be used next year.

This is the second year the aquarium has collected leftover beads. Since they can’t be recycled, according to the press release, “the community’s best choice for reducing waste at this event is the reduction and reuse of the beads.”

Don’t want to visit The Florida Aquarium? The City of Tampa is also collecting beads starting Wednesday, Jan. 22 at various locations.

“You can turn in your Gasparilla beads for free admission to the Florida Aquarium” –

National foundation names Tampa Bay as "Talent Hub," awards grant

Lumina Foundation has recognized Tampa Bay as one of the first “Talent Hubs” in Florida for its efforts to attract, retain and cultivate talent. The designation includes a $125,000 grant to the LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network, which is awarded in partnership with The Kresge Foundation, one of top 20 private foundations in the nation.

Being named a Talent Hub indicates that Tampa Bay has shown the capacity to work collaboratively toward a significant increase in the number of residents with college degrees, certificates and other credentials beyond a high school diploma. Grant funds are earmarked for efforts to re-engage adult learners who started post-secondary education or training, but did not complete it.

“LEAP and its regional partners have done a phenomenal job laying the groundwork that resulted in this national designation,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. The City of Tampa is a LEAP founding partner. “Our administration is committed to increasing our workforce development,” said Mayor Castor, “and the Talent Hub designation and grant will certainly support our efforts in helping our residents attain the education and skills they need, which will in turn increase social and economic mobility for our entire community.”

An estimated 330,000 adults living in Tampa Bay have earned some credits but never completed their college degrees and/or credentialing programs, according to a 2017 American Community Survey. The Talent Hub grant will support re-enrolling those who already have credits, as well as efforts to create new opportunities and remove barriers for the region’s African American, Hispanic and low-income populations, which have historically experienced gaps in educational success.

LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network, a cross-sector network of 17 partners working to increase college access and attainment in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, is the lead organization on Lumina Foundation’s Talent Hub grant. LEAP’s vision aligns with the state’s “Sail to 60” goal for all of Florida, and the national “GOAL 2025” movement, all of which seek to have 60 percent of working-age adults holding such credentials and degrees by 2025. As of 2017, Tampa Bay’s two-county post-secondary attainment rate is 51.3%, which includes a statewide estimate of certificate completion that has been applied to the region.

“The demand for an educated, skilled workforce increases as the business community in Tampa Bay expands,” said Dr. Tonjua Williams, President of St. Petersburg College. “This new designation demonstrates that national leaders in educational attainment believe in Tampa Bay’s ability to share resources and expertise for the greater good of our vibrant community.”

Founding LEAP education partners Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, the University of South Florida and both Hillsborough and Pinellas school districts all had leaders playing a key role in completing the rigorous designation application, as did United Way Suncoast and the statewide entity Complete Florida.

In January 2020, Lumina announced the designation of four communities throughout the country as Talent Hubs. Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida and its FutureMakers Coalition are the first two Talent Hubs in Florida. There are now 26 Talent Hubs nationwide, ranging from New York City, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles to Richmond, Virginia, and Racine, Wisconsin.

“Talent Hubs are not just trying to be some of the best places to live, work, and learn,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “These communities also are taking today’s students and transforming them into tomorrow’s talent.”

Talent Hubs are part of Lumina’s $13 million community mobilization strategy, which focuses on local and regional efforts to increase attainment in ways that can inform other communities.

About LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network

LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network is a cross-sector network of 17 partners convened to promote their community-wide commitment to college access and attainment in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Using a collective impact model of collaboration, LEAP leadership will guide coordinated need-based strategies by partners from across business, education, government and non-profits, all geared at increasing attainment of high-quality college degrees and credentials to help build Tampa Bay’s workforce talent base. For more information, visit

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

About The Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in American cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information, visit

“National foundation names Tampa Bay as “Talent Hub”, awards grant –

Downtown Debriefing Series with Carole Post, City of Tampa

Join us on February 25th for the latest edition of the Downtown Debriefing Series. Held at the Tampa Marriott Water Street, attendees will hear from Carole Post, new Administrator for Development and Economic Opportunity. She will share her vision for Tampa’s Downtown’s economic development future.

Sign up today!

Wrestlemania Tampa is set to provide epic impact

It was no easy feat for Tampa to pin down WrestleMania, and now that it made the event’s preferred roster of host cities, the region is preparing for the surge of economic impact it carries.

For fans, seeing superstars in the ring is the highlight of the adrenaline-pounding event. It will also bring many post-and pre-taping events at Amalie Arena.

The WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on April 2, “Friday Night Smackdown,” on April 3, “NXT Takeover: Tampa Bay” on  April 4 and “Monday Night Raw” on April 6.

“This is going to have lingering impact,” Tampa Bay Economic Development Council CEO and President Craig Richard said.  “When we capture this, it makes it a lot easier for us to pitch to host another event.”

Record crowd anticipated

WrestleMania is now projected to have the largest crowd in the history of Raymond James Stadium — even surpassing the Super Bowl. That’s in part because, in addition to the stadium seating, seats will fill the field area.

Justin LaBar, WWE analyst and podcaster, who is independent of WWE,  said it would be typical to see 60,000 to 80,000 wrestling fans at a WrestleMania event.

LaBar said it makes perfect sense for Tampa to finally host the event as many of the wrestlers live in the area today and the WWE Performance Center, a training facility for developing WWE wrestlers, is in Orlando.

“It takes over a city. Every year the event just gets bigger,” LaBar said. WWE usually seeks the largest stadiums and ones it can set records in, he said.

Lasting impact

Over the past 12 years, WrestleMania has generated more than $1.2 billion in cumulative economic impact for cities, according to WWE.

The most recent WrestleMania, WrestleMania 35, generated $165.4 million in economic impact for the New York/New Jersey region this past April as the MetLife Stadium itself saw more than 82,000 fans, according to a study conducted by the Enigma Research Corp. The event also generated approximately $27.1 million in federal, state and local taxes, the study said.

“Cities now pursue WWE as an economic proposition,” said WWE’s Vice President of Special Events John Saboor. “We know WWE’s fan base in Tampa Bay has already resonated and Tampa being a destination, we hope to meet or exceed the impact WWE had last year [in New York and New Jersey].”

More than half of the fans were from outside of the New York and New Jersey region and they stayed an average of 4.6 nights. WWE said $23.9 million was spent on hotels and accommodations for the event within the region.

Tampa expects to see 40,000 to 50,000 rooms nights generated for the 2020 event, Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Director Rob Higgins said.

Saboor said the hotels being booked for fans, wrestlers and crew are predominantly located in downtown and Westshore.

The bold projections should not be overstated. Previous economic impact reports from other cities includes:

Orlando held WrestleMania in 2017, it generated a reported $181.5 million, equal to the creation of 1,730 full-time jobs. The event drew over 75,000 fans who spent $9.3 million at restaurants and $24.8 million on hotels.

Miami hosted WrestleMania 28 in 2012, generating a $102.7 million economic impact. The event at Sun Life Stadium drew 78,363 fans. About 71 percent of fans who traveled to Miami for the event stayed an average of four nights. The event’s impact generated $15.3 million in local, state and county taxes.

Will Tampa return to the ring?

If history repeats itself, Tampa is a fierce contender as a returned-to host city.

“Our thinking is when we make a decision, we do it with a goal and intent to not to do it just one time. We want to create a relationship,” Saboor said.

In WWE’s list of cities, the event returned to New Orleans, New York, Orlando and others numerous times.

It would be a major win under Tampa’s belt to win it again as the WrestleMania event, and many other marquee WWE events, attract national and international fans.

“WresleMania Tampa is set to provide epic impact” – Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

2020 Downtown Development Forum

Registration and sponsorship/marketing opportunities are now open for the 2020 Downtown Development Forum! The Downtown Development Forum is a half day conference discussing topics and efforts of the downtown community’s development efforts. Hear from expert panelists, speakers and keynote address. Early Bird Pricing OPEN until February 5th at Midnight! Early Bird Partnership Members $65 (Increase after 2/5 is $75) Early Bird SSD Stakeholders & Non Members $80 (Increase after 2/5 is $95)

FRIDAY >> APRIL 3, 2020

Westin Tampa Waterside

725 S. Harbour Island Waterside Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33602

8:30am – 11:30

Stay tuned for the announcement of our expert speakers and keynote address!

Register Here:

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