Make us your home page

Top candidate emerges before search for new Hillsborough tourism CEO even begins

TAMPA — Officially, Santiago Corrada's title is mayor's chief of staff. Unofficially, he is the city's troubleshooter in chief.

Since the city hired him in 2004, he has helped plan Super Bowl XLIII and the Republican National Convention, cleaned up Gasparilla, got the Tampa Convention Center back in the black, and along the way solved whatever other problems two mayors needed solved.

"When we set out a course, he's the guy that gets it implemented," said his current boss, Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

That's probably why members of the board that oversees Tampa Bay & Co., the tourism agency of Hillsborough County, recently approached Corrada about their top job.

"I've had some board members ask me about it," he said. "I would look at it. You have to. It's a great, great job. It's something I would definitely have to consider."

There's just one problem: Tampa Bay & Co. has not officially started its search for a new president and CEO. The board's executive committee is set to hold its first discussion about selecting a leader on Dec. 6.

The agency needs a CEO after Kelly Miller abruptly resigned Oct. 31. He spent just 11 months on the job. Corrada said several members of the board of directors approached him to gauge his interest — and he is interested. He was not offered the job and is not negotiating with anyone. He also declined to identify who approached him.

Ron Ciganek, the former chairman who still sits on the executive committee, said he didn't know board members had already approached Corrada. He also doesn't know if anyone else has been approached, or if that kind of contact was against the agency's rules.

"First I've heard of it," Ciganek said. "We've got a real enthusiastic board that believes in the economic development opportunities that Tampa Bay & Co. has.

"Santiago has been a great leader in our community locally. I can see potentially why a board member would ask why he might have an interest."

Tampa Bay & Co. is a $10 million nonprofit that receives 80 percent of its funding from the county's tourist development tax on hotel beds. It's mission is to promote tourism, but its primary purpose is to fill the city's publicly owned convention center. It has more than three dozen directors on its board, a mix of private sector business leaders and a smattering of public sector officials. Corrada, for example, is the mayor's representative on the board.

But Tampa Bay & Co. has in the past had trouble conducting a publicly transparent search for a new leader under the state's sunshine laws. When Miller was picked in 2011, the agency did not publicly disclose the list of finalists beforehand, or when the board would vote on its top choice, or even his salary.

In an email to the Tampa Bay Times this month, a spokesman insisted that the agency is still exempt from Florida's public records law — but also finally revealed Miller's salary: $214,000. Miller's predecessor, former CEO Paul Catoe, made $316,000 in 2010. Across the bay, the salary of the executive director of Pinellas County's tourism agency is $159,000.

The mayor said there's no doubt that Corrada, 48, would be a great pick to run the agency.

"First of all, I think anywhere Santiago goes, he will be a benefit to the organization," Buckhorn said. "That's why I don't want to lose him.

"Secondarily, I think he would bring a breath of fresh air and a recognition, having worked in government, that sunshine is important. Transparency is important. Relationships with the media are important. I think he would transform the culture."

Corrada, whose current salary is $153,000, also has plenty of experience working with Tampa Bay & Co. from his days running the convention center and most recently as the city's point man for the RNC.

"To me, it's a good organization with a good staff," he said. "There are some questions about the sunshine and public records, issues that need to be looked at.

"My public background plays well into that discussion."

Ciganek said the Dec. 6 executive committee meeting will get the ball rolling on the CEO search, starting with a review of the job description. No decision has been made about what kind of search to conduct, he said, but he expects it will be a public one.

"It will be an advertised search, a broad spectrum search of local and national candidates," Ciganek said. "That's what the meeting is about, to define the process.

"We'll keep you guys informed about how that process will go."

Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (813) 226-3404.

Top candidate emerges before search for new Hillsborough tourism CEO even begins 11/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 12:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy but keeps stores open (w/video)


    NEW YORK — Toys 'R' Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual.

    Shoppers shop in a Toys R Us store on Black Friday in Miami in 2016. Toys R Us, the pioneering big box toy retailer, announced late Monday, Sept. 18, 2017 it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while continuing with normal business operations. [Associated Press]
  2. Trigaux: Waiting for your next pay raise? Keep dreaming, employers hint

    Working Life

    The economy's bouncing back. The stock market keeps hitting new records. And the jobless rate in Florida may soon drop below 4 percent. Surely, these are robust indicators — key signs that an annual raise is just around the corner. Right?

    Who doesn't want a pay raise? Demonstrators have rallied for years in a number of states for a $15 minimum wage. But many workers across a broad pay range are unlikely to see much if any raises this year, a new survey says. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]
  3. Florida Guard scales down troop strength; Navy sails away from the Keys

    State Roundup

    The Florida National Guard on Monday drew down its activated statewide forces to about 1,200 on-duty troops, mostly in operations focused on relief distribution in the Florida Keys — and the last of a mini-armada of U.S. Navy ships off Key West set sail for home.

    Soldiers from the Florida National Guard's Delta Company, 1st Battallion, 124th Infantry, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on Sept. 14. The Federal Emergency Managment Agency has reported that 25-percent of all homes in the Florida Keys were destroyed and 65-percent sustained major damage when they took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma.  [Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images]
  4. LOCALE Market hosting St. Pete job fair for hospitality positions


    ST. PETERSBURG — Locale Market / FarmTable Kitchen is hosting a hospitality job fair Tuesday in St. Petersburg. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LOCALE Market at 179 2nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg. Organizers said they hope to hire about 20 workers with a focus on displaced workers from Hurricane …

    Locale Market is hosting job fair on Tues., Feb. 19. [LARA CERRI | Times] 

  5. So far, 335,000 Irma claims totalling $1.95 billion filed in Florida


    Times Staff Writer

    As of Sunday afternoon, insurers had received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reported Monday based on preliminary figures.

    This shows a damaged mobile home inside Clover Leaf Farms RV Park in Brooksville. So far, insurers have received a total of 335,347 claims statewide for insured damage totalling $1.95 billion caused by Hurricane Irma.
[MEGAN REEVES   |   Times]