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The Biz: Chamber's Myron Hughes leave big shoes to fill

As the now-former vice president for economic development at the Tampa Chamber, Myron Hughes left behind some big shoes to fill. Literally. Hughes is not only the dream customer of a Big and Tall men's store. He was also one of the Tampa Bay area's higher-profile African-Americans expressly charged with business retention. In other words, once companies were recruited here, Hughes was supposed to keep them here by providing support via the chamber's business network. Hughes' tenure here was short. He's landed back at his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati, where he is executive director of the university's alumni association. So instead of retaining businesses, he's building relationships with graduates. For those who got to know Hughes, he was a kind and outgoing man with an easy sense of humor. And while he was a Tampa guy, he could be found often at the end of the day in downtown St. Petersburg at Dino's jazz bar. Hughes once played a mean game of college basketball, but his true love is good music.

ROBIN RONNE'S NEW ROLE: Now comes a "national search" to find a successor to Hughes. The VP of economic development is a tough job. Many powerful people in the Tampa Chamber and the affiliated Committee of 100 want your ear to address their agendas. Hughes, some may recall, was recruited to Tampa after longtime predecessor Robin Ronne wore out his welcome. While Ronne was a whiz at recruiting call centers and back-room operations of big financial firms, chamber powers tired of his narrow niche. Not so the Broward Alliance, Broward County's public/private economic development organization. It recently launched an aggressive marketing campaign called Excellerate Broward to attract businesses and raised $800,000 from some of the county's top CEOs. To spur things along, the Alliance hired Ronne as managing director of its CEO Council, whose members include heavyweights like AutoNation chief Mike Jackson and serial entrepreneur and Miami Dolphins co-owner Wayne Huizenga.

ARNOLD WANTS MOVIE BIZ BACK: The Governator's mad. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, usually pals with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, is frustrated that so many movie jobs in his state are being lured elsewhere. Including Florida. Production moved to cheaper locations overseas until the dollar weakened. "What happened was they didn't come back to California, they went to Louisiana, they went to Florida, they went New Mexico because they give great tax incentives," Schwarzenegger said. "So their production is going up, their business is booming, they're making a lot of money, and they're putting everyone to work and we don't. We have tens of thousands of people in the movie business that are unemployed."

HAVE AQUARIUM, WILL TRAVEL: Ten years and two months ago, corporate recruiters in Tampa snared the No. 2 guy at the Atlanta Zoo, Jeffery Swanagan, to serve as CEO of its young Florida Aquarium in the Channelside area. He stayed three years, then returned to Atlanta to help develop the Georgia Aquarium with billionaire and Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus and turn it into the world's largest fish tank. Now he's taking his experience to Columbus, Ohio, where he will be executive director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. His last day at the Georgia Aquarium is June 13.

The Biz: Chamber's Myron Hughes leave big shoes to fill 05/17/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 17, 2008 4:36am]
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