Downtown Tampa, Westshore and University of South Florida are critical to developing an economy built on innovation.

That was the takeaway from a tour organized by the Tampa Innovation Alliance, which aims to transform the area around USF into an innovation district that will create and attract investors, corporations with high-wage jobs and an educated workforce.

Bruce Katz with the Brookings Institution joined Mark Sharpe, executive director of the alliance, and alliance backers in a van tour of the area, with stops at Tampa International Airport to talk with Joe Lopano, airport CEO, and at Amalie Arena for a discussion with Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who is planning a $2 billion development in downtown Tampa.

TBBJ was invited to listen during the conversations. At the arena, they discussed growing interest in innovation districts, defining the district, light rail and how MacDill Air Force Base plays a role.

By: Margie Manning, Finance Editor, Tampa Bay Business Journal