One of Tampa Bay’s top business leaders is ready to hand over the reins.
Rick Homans, the president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership, will leave his post when his contract expires in November, the organization announced Wednesday. He’ll stay aboard while the group searches for his successor.
“My wife is insisting it’s a reinvention,” Homans, 64, said by phone Thursday. “It’s another phase in life. I’m not a retiring type. I know there’s at least one or two more acts in there, and I will look forward to that. But the first thing is to take a breather and to do some things with my family that I’ve wanted to do for some time, and then begin to look at other opportunities that may arise.”
Homans has led the Tampa Bay Partnership, a coalition of local business leaders whose aim is improving the quality of life across the region, since 2015. Prior to that, he spent three years as president and CEO of what is now the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council.
He came to Tampa Bay after more than three decades working in business and government in New Mexico. He helped recruit Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic headquarters to New Mexico, served in the cabinet of former Gov. Bill Richardson, and once ran for mayor of Albuquerque.
During Homans’s tenure at the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council, the Tampa Bay area lured more than 12,000 new jobs through projects like a new Amazon distribution center in Ruskin, the national headquarters of Big Brothers Big Sisters America and large hubs for corporations like Bristol-Myers Squibb and USAA.
When he joined the Tampa Bay Partnership, he spoke of leveraging that success into harnessing “the power of the region” to effect economic change.
“There is a giant vacuum in Tampa Bay when it comes to uniting the business and political leadership in an effective way,” he told the Times in 2015. “I think that is the calling of the partnership.”
To that end, he steered the partnership’s goals toward impacting the quality of local life, studying everything from talent recruitment to public transportation to race relations to the area’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The group’s data-driven approach informed their policy advocacy in ways that Homans thinks are here to stay.
“The partnership had been around for many years, and had some great moments, but I think we’ve hit our stride during these last five years, and achieved a level of influence and respect and credibility,” he said. “Credit goes to the leaders around the table, and the great staff I’ve had at the organization. But the partnership is now an organization of some influence in the community, and I’m very proud of that.”
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Partnership chairman Chad Loar will lead the search for Homans’ successor. In a separate email on Wednesday, he told members he plans to appoint a search committee that will spend months interviewing “a highly-qualified and diverse pool of candidates. As I find is usually the case, big changes can translate into big opportunities.”
Homans said he hasn’t thought much about where he’ll land once he leaves — only that he’s ruled out politics. He believes the partnership will find no shortage of candidates to fill his role.
“I want to make sure that the organization is in its strongest position financially, programatically, when I leave,” he said, “because I think that will give them the best chance of hiring the best possible CEO to replace me, who can take the organization further and higher.”