Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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To those who made Tampa Bay economy better in 2014 — thanks

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Bravo to every person noted here for making the 2014 Tampa Bay economy stronger, smarter and more confident to try new things. Many more deserve thanks, so consider this list just the tip of an impressive iceberg. Well done to all. Hearty appreciation goes to:

1. Les and Pam Muma and Kate Tiedemann, whose combined $35 million in gifts this year to the USF College of Business in Tampa ($25 million by the Mumas) and USF St. Petersburg's College of Business ($10 million by Tiedemann) are record donations sure to elevate two key institutions.

2. The eight brave design teams who recently submitted their creative ideas for the fresh competition for a new St. Petersburg Pier. After the last bungled try at this, I'm impressed there are any participants.

3. Members of the Florida Public Service Commission for their cultlike willingness to rubber-stamp the wishes of Duke Energy and other big utilities throughout this tumultuous year. You almost have to admire their bizarre discipline in the face of common economic sense.

4. Stuart Rogel for 20 years as head of the Tampa Bay Partnership, who is now stepping down to make room for some new blood at the regional marketing group.

5. Diane Baker of the fundraising United Way Suncoast, who retired this fall after 35 years at the nonprofit, the past 12 as CEO.

6. Jeff Vinik, who hardly needed to do more than enjoy being owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team, but instead is taking on Tampa's downtown in one of the biggest urban redevelopment projects in the country.

7. Karl Nurse of the St. Petersburg City Council for doing his job by questioning the development rights with the Tampa Bay Rays but scuttling the Rays search for a Hills­borough County stadium site. If the Rays do move to another city, Nurse's political career could be over, despite his "yes" vote on the Rays' deal.

8. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for invoking the word "swagger" every single day of 2014 for his city's newfound economic confidence.

9. Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio for helping relocate the headquarters of the Big Brother Big Sisters mentoring group she now heads to Tampa from Texas next year.

10. Celebrity chefs Michael Mina and Don Pintabona for daring to collaborate in downtown St. Petersburg by opening the gourmet Locale Market as an anchor in the still-emerging Sundial retail shops. This will be a big win for the city if Locale prospers.

11. Reuben Pressman, John Morrow, Daniel James Scott, Tonya Elmore, George Gordon, Sean Kennedy, Linda Olson, Chris Paradies, Krista Covey and Joy Randels only scratch the surface of so many committed to strengthening this metro region's still-young business culture for entrepreneurs and startups.

12. Columbia Restaurant's Richard Gonzmart for making Tampa's new Ulele restaurant an immediate waterfront landmark and nationally noticed dining experience.

13. Punit Shah and Santosh Govindaraju for renovating the Mercantile Bank building into the sleek Aloft Tampa Downtown, a 130-room boutique hotel, another critical piece of the city's urban renewal.

14. Barb Haselden of the pesky No Tax For Tracks movement for leading a successful effort, this time to defeat the deeper-pocketed Greenlight Pinellas mass transit referendum. Her gift is to force mass transportation supporters back to the drawing board to find a better way to make public transit more appealing to residents.

15. Mike Davis, executive director of Cushman & Wakefield, who helped broker the $128.13 million downtown Tampa sale of the 38-story One Tampa City Center — one of the largest commercial office transactions in Florida history.

16. D.T. Minich, who ran the highly touted Visit St. Pete/Clearwater tourism agency during recent years of record tourism before leaving to try to replicate his success in Kissimmee.

17. Hillsborough Commissioner (just ending his term) Mark Sharpe for his collegial, livestreamed Buddy Brew pep talks about igniting a livelier regional economy.

18. Joyce and Nelson Conig­lio, who delivered the consumer shot heard around America. After being tormented for years by more than 700 Bank of America robocalls, the Tampa Heights couple sued the bank for harassment and was awarded an astonishing $1 million in compensation.

19. Winter, the movie star of Dolphin Tale 2 this fall and the original Dolphin Tale of 2011, remaining the single most powerful marketing figure in modern Clearwater history.

20. To longtime developer Al Austin, sports owner Malcolm Glazer, young entrepreneur Susie Steiner, Jim Miekka, the blind inventor of the Hindenburg Omen (stock market warning signal) — and to all the others who passed away in 2014 who made unique contributions to this economy, thanks for making where we live and work a better place.

Contact Robert Trigaux at [email protected] or (727) 893-8405. Follow @venturetampabay.

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