UNIVERSITY AREA — Community leaders were recognized for their commitment to the area with the first University Area Community Impact Awards, a joint effort between the University Area Community Development Corp. and Tampa Innovation Alliance.
Francis Joseph, executive director of the Caribbean-American National Development Organization, was given the Creative Cooperation Award for exceptional collaborative impact between community partners and community members.
Cielo Gomez of Casa Chiapas received the Community Catalyst Award, which is given to an organization less than 2 years old for emerging in community leadership, inclusion and ongoing growth and development. It promotes the participation of the immigrant community in Tampa.
Lori Snider, general manager of Casa Blanca Apartments, received the Corporate Change-Maker Award, given to a business that provides a notable contribution to the design, development and assessment of innovative ideas to move the community forward.
Winners were announced Wednesday at University Mall at the gathering of Tampa Innovation Alliance, which seeks to create a place people want to live, work and play in northern Tampa. More than 600 business leaders, community residents, University of South Florida representatives and government officials attended.
After the presentation, Joseph said the award "is great to be recognized for what we are doing and shows we are accomplishing our mission. Now this raises us to a new level of expectations."
Alliance executive director Mark Sharpe said in opening the program, "We will work together to make this the greatest community — the greatest innovation district."
Author and professor Richard Florida was the featured speaker with remarks by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill, USF president Judy Genshaft and others.
"We are building connections between institutions, neighbourhoods and people that will set the standards," Genshaft said.
She and Merrill had just returned from St. Louis, where they visited an innovation district that resulted in increased recruitment of top students and faculty for Washington University and reduced poverty and blight, Merrill said.
That project took 10 years and Tampa's innovation district will take time, too, he said, "but the county is committed to this."
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