Make us your home page
Instagram

Trigaux: If Charlotte, N.C., thinks its name can stand alone, when can Tampa Bay say the same?

As the Carolina Panthers head to the Super Bowl, there’s a feeling in their hometown, Charlotte, N.C., that the city is well known enough that it can be recognized without the North Carolina behind it. Is Tampa Bay nearing that point, too? Charlotte’s skyline is pictured last week. (Getty Images)

As the Carolina Panthers head to the Super Bowl, there’s a feeling in their hometown, Charlotte, N.C., that the city is well known enough that it can be recognized without the North Carolina behind it. Is Tampa Bay nearing that point, too? Charlotte’s skyline is pictured last week. (Getty Images)

Though advancing in age, Hugh McColl still stands out among the South's great business revivalists and as a key builder behind Charlotte's rise from sleepy North Carolina city to one of the economic leaders of the Southeastern states.

Florida knows McColl best as the hard-charging North Carolina banker, the ex-Marine who pushed his North Carolina National Bank into the Sunshine State, purchased deer-in-the-headlight Florida banks by the bushel and ultimately created Bank of America as Florida's biggest bank — and based in Charlotte.

So it's notable to read in Tuesday's Charlotte Observer how McColl, who played a fundamental role in helping bring the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise to his city, views the regional impact of a still young football team. The Panthers, with the best record in the league, are now heading to the Super Bowl.

What does it mean for Charlotte? "We can now drop 'North Carolina' off of our address," McColl told the Observer. "People know where we are, who we are. I think it's been a tremendous recognition for our city."

It's hardly the only measure of broader recognition, but it's a great litmus test for any city to ask of itself: Are we well known enough to drop the state off our address?

Can Tampa drop "Florida" off its address? Can St. Petersburg or Clearwater? And what about "Tampa Bay" as the great metrowide brand? Has that earned the absence of "Florida" behind it?

My sense in covering the economy here for 25 years is we are getting close. We're getting there because this area is getting much more national and international attention than it did few years ago. The Republican National Convention, held in Tampa in 2012, helped a lot. The Bollywood glitz of the Indian Film Academy's "Oscars," held for the first time in this country in 2014, was another big plus. Multiple Super Bowls have played major roles. The buzz behind the rebound of downtown St. Petersburg and the promise of the same in Tampa is a factor. Record tourism, too.

So is the year-round barrage of sports news driven by the Bucs, Lightning and Rays — all employing "Tampa Bay" in their names — as well as other sports teams in the area, including Major League Baseball spring training.

People elsewhere watch these sporting events on TV or read about them in sports pages and online as they follow their teams. But they see "Tampa Bay" constantly when their teams play our teams.

Charlotte has it easy in the sense that it is one city with one brand to promote. Our tri-city metro area still wrestles with diluted branding, the natural tug of war between individual city and county desires for recognition versus the umbrella name of "Tampa Bay." Detractors to this day remind me that Tampa Bay is just a body of water.

So, to McColl and Charlotte — congratulations. No more "North Carolina" dependency to back up your city's name.

In this market, we're still pursuing that goal and making progress. We're not quite there.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

Trigaux: If Charlotte, N.C., thinks its name can stand alone, when can Tampa Bay say the same? 01/26/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2016 7:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
  2. The Penny Hoarder tops 79 fastest growing Tampa Bay companies on Inc. 5000

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder today further cemented its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing companies. The personal finance web site business ranks 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the just released 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing businesses.

    One of the fastest growing startups in the country is St. Petersburg's The Penny Hoarder, a financial advice web site aimed at helping readers save money. Playing a game in the office is (right to left) founder and CEO Kyle Taylor, vice president of business operations Vishal Mahtani and executive editor Alexis Grant. [Courtesy of The Penny Hoarder]
  3. Here's what it's like inside a writhing, growling Howl-O-Scream audition

    Florida

    TAMPA — At Busch Gardens, a Howl-O-Scream manager is hunting zombies.

    Auditioner Natalie Rychel, 20, of Tampa, Fla., high fives director of atmosphere Morgan Malice after being selected for a job for Bush Gardens' Howl-O-Scream during an audition at the theme park on Friday, August 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (From left) Auditioners Jared Shipley, 20, of Lakeland, Fla., and Lincoln Scott, 41, of Riverview, Fla., look over. This year, Howl-O-Scream will take place from September 22 to October 29 at Bush Gardens. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  4. Tampa Bay homeowners sue JPMorgan Chase for billing on already-paid mortgages

    Banking

    ST. PETERSBURG — Two Tampa Bay homeowners are suing JPMorgan Chase Bank for attempting to continue to collect on what they say were already-paid-off mortgages.

    JPMorgan Chase is the subject of a lawsuit by two Tampa Bay homeowners who say the bank attempted to collect on mortgages they already paid off. | [Getty Images]
  5. Housing starts fall in July

    Real Estate

    WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell 4.8 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million. Groundbreakings for multi-family buildings such as apartments slumped 17.1 percent, while single-family house construction slipped 0.5 percent.

    On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported on U.S. home construction in July. 
[AP file photo]