TAMPA — The search for a new CEO to lead Hillsborough County's tourism agency is only a few days old, but Tampa Bay & Co. said Thursday that it has already received 55 applicants for the top job.
Jim Dean, the president of Busch Gardens and Adventure Island in Tampa, is the new chairman of Tampa Bay & Co. and is leading the search. He said the job has been advertised for 10 days and he expects to have more than 100 applicants by the time the window closes on Feb. 15. He said 23 are from outside Florida, applying from 15 states. Of course, it's too early to tell how many qualified applicants are in the pool, but Dean said he's encouraged.
"That's promising after only 10 days into the search," Dean said.
The nonprofit Tampa Bay & Co. gets about 80 percent of its $10 million budget from the Hillsborough County's tourist development tax, which it uses to promote local tourism and the Tampa Convention Center. But the agency has also been without a CEO since Kelly Miller resigned on Oct. 31 after just 11 months in the job.
One of those who said he has officially applied is Santiago Corrada, the mayor of Tampa's chief of staff and the city's representative to the tourism agency. Unnamed board members approached him about the top job in November.
The next month, Dean officially formed a 15-member CEO search committee. But Tampa Bay & Co. would not disclose the names of any other applicants on Thursday. Executive search firm Norstrem Associates Executive Recruiters of Tampa will assemble the pool of candidates.
"We're doing whatever we can to find the best him or her for the job," Dean said.