As the school year closes out, the grades also came out Tuesday morning for the Tampa Bay regional economy. Our regional economic scorecard, which ranks Tampa Bay against five other competitive metro areas across the Southeast, shows marked improvement. While Tampa Bay ranked sixth overall among six metro areas in the fall, it now ranks third, tied with Atlanta. That's the good news. The bad news is Tampa Bay "improved" in part because the economy in the other five metro areas declined more than ours did since fall — making us "rise" in the ranks. Still, it's a positive scorecard, says Gary Sasso, Carlton Fields law firm CEO and business intelligence chairman of the Tampa Bay Partnership, which produces the regional scorecard. "While the overall indicators remain down, there are bright signs that the region may be turning the corner," Sasso says. "This is the second consecutive scorecard where improving indicators outnumber the declining indicators."
Tampa Bay rises in rank against Southeast metro rivals
Middle of the pack
The Tampa Bay area scored in the middle in almost every category, ranking neither first nor last in any.
How the six metro areas rank overall:
1. Raleigh/Durham. A perennial at the top of the list.
2. Dallas. Powerhouse in employment and wages.
3. Tampa Bay and Atlanta (tied). While the bay area is weak in innovation, Atlanta is strong, although it has the worst transportation.
5. Jacksonville. Best housing prices, worst in innovation.
6. Charlotte. Home to troubled B of A, deposed Wachovia.